As creative director and cofounder of NOLA Fashion Week, Andi Eaton is busy gearing up for next week's spring 2013 shows. But this time last month, her focus was on New York's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Three stylists on the Paris Parker team, where Eaton is general manager, were tapped to style backstage at five shows. She and Paris Parker editorial director Paul Eastin, who styled for Richard Chai, Sally Lapointe and Tibi, share their thoughts on the experience styling for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, their goals for NOLA Fashion Week, and the ways the two weeks inform each other.
What's it like to work major fashion shows? Does it get crazy back there?
Paul Eastin:The energy in New York is very intense, so getting to Lincoln Center on Thursday morning, there was a lot of excitement in the air, lots of black unmarked vehicles pulling up, and there's some curiosity. We started with the Richard Chai show, and it was very similar to my past experiences working with Aveda. They really focus on teamwork. Nobody is feeling special treatment over the others. It's a real sense of camaraderie.
How do the stylists come up with the looks for hair?
PE: You're either going to stay with the flow of the clothing or purposefully do a juxtaposition. One of the shows was Sally Lapointe. I got to go with them to the hair test at her studio. They looked at the storyboard, her fabric and all the girls, and suggested a center part because of the way that line would bring out the lines in the clothing. They mentioned the way the double-folded chignon would mimic some of the folding present in the collection, the way the fabric is draping. That makes a lot of sense to me in terms of the way it connected.
How does that experience translate to your work here at NOLA Fashion Week?
Andi Eaton: They bring back a different approach to how we work backstage. They're able to bring a different thought process in terms of setup, call times. It can get as detailed as how many electrical outlets you need, and we know how to set those things up because of their experience.
PE: As a lead stylist, I'm prepared to talk with the designers about what they want for their show. A lot of designers really are scrambling to try to think of hair, because it's not what they think of when they think of their collection. I am mindful that it's about hair fashion and how it reflects the clothing, not hair trends, and that's something I learned from seeing veterans and how they talk about hair.
Isn't that part of your mission — to educate professionals in the New Orleans fashion industry?
AE: Our intention in NOLA fashion week is to organically grow the designers we work with so they can use the event for a marketing platform. We want designers to have the opportunity to sell their work and connect with press and buyers. In New York or New Orleans, we want to support them in creating a sustainable business. When you look back at the early 1990s in New York, it was American designers looking to get their names on the map of fashion globally. It is a smaller scale here, but the same intentions: designers creating brand opportunities for themselves at the shows.
What are you looking forward to about NOLA Fashion Week?
PE: We have 17 designers showing with us next week, and that’s the most we have had by five. We've seen a pickup in the number of designers who can produce and are growing their collections. The more we grow as an artistic community, the more we are able to be relevant in the world and say we do have talent here, we do have a voice here. It's an exciting time to be in this city and be doing these things.
NOLA Fashion Week takes place Oct. 13-20 at venues throughout the city. Visit http://nola-fashionweek.com for more information.