A Q&A with Charleston Fashion Week Runway Coordinator Jacqueline Lawrence

Q:  What’s your role as this year’s CFW Runway Coordinator?

A:  As the Runway Coordinator I have the pleasure of working with some really terrific people including the 2010 Emerging Designers, some of the most beautiful and posed models, and especially all the wonderful store owners and staff, designers, and vendors Charleston has to offer! 

Q:  Take me through a day in your life- both pre Fashion Week and during.

A:  A day in the life involves a lot of electronics: emails, phone, cell, text, you name it I use it!   It’s important to stay in touch, even if I’m meeting with the hair and make up team or speaking to a designer about their runway presentation.  Today I did a site visit to determine the video need for the Emerging Designer’s competition.  It’s different every second, every day; you just never know.  Having access to information is crucial.       

Q:  How did you decide to jump on board this year and what was that process like?

A:  When I moved here from Los Angeles a little over four years ago I thought, “This is a great community with some great fashion”.  Then a few months later I heard a rumor there was going to be an event called “Charleston Fashion Week”.  I had to get involved having a background in fashion, runway shows, and events- there was no question!  Four years later, this is my forth year of working on the event and it’s been great!  Not to say there aren’t challenges, but it’s completely worth it.  I’m giddy inside and so excited to see it all come to life!

Q:  How long have you guys been prepping for the 2010 shows?

A:  Wow, I can’t believe it.  It’s been seven months.

Q:  What’s the most enjoyable part of your job?

A:  It has to be the people.  Like I said, the community is overflowing with some of the most amazing accessory designers, boutique owners, and my team.  There’s no way I could achieve everything without the assistance of my team. 

Q:  Most challenging?

A:  Spending my whole pay check on some of the most beautiful clothes and accessories!    

Q:  What are you most looking forward to this year?

A:  My favorite part is when the lights go up, the music begins and the first model hits the runway.  You can feel the energy in the air.  It’s incredible! 

Q:  I hear this year’s the backstage layout is seamless (with new floors and all)!  What are some of the changes you made?

A:  Everyone including the models, retailers, and entire backstage team are super excited about the changes.  The biggest change this year is the increase in models that will walk the runway for each presentation.  Up to twenty models at show! 

Q:  You have an intense, minute by minute production schedule backstage.  What’s your method to reigning in the madness?

A:  It takes a small army and lots of water.  Keeping hydrated keeps you level headed and full of energy.  And my method would be nothing without the Runway Team.  Ask the team what keeps it all organized and I bet they would say “a spreadsheet”.  Spreadsheets for rehearsals and castings, spreadsheets for gathering logos and music forms, spreadsheets for model line ups and runway shows, spreadsheets for everything!  Then when it’s time to put everything into action; patience, anticipating the unexpected, and having a positive attitude make it all happen. 

Q:  What are you particularly excited about this year ?

A:  The Emerging Designer competition was the first project I worked on.  I can’t wait to see what they put out on the runway! 

Q:  Let’s talk about the Rock the Runway competition, a new event focusing on models this year.  What is the layout and how will it go down? 

A:  Models are an integral part of the event.  With out them it’s just clothes on a hanger. So, to recognize this, the “Rock the Runway Model Search and Competition” was born.  It’s pretty simple.  Models are given points for their participation, professionalism, communication, their range and ability to walk, as well as confidence.  Stores, designers, and CFW Model Coach Michelle Wood weigh in on all areas.  The models with the most points who have communicated well and been timely to rehearsals and castings become the top (10) models.  On Thursday March 18th, these ten rock the runway for the CFW audience and Runway Panel Judges who will select the top model.

Q:  What’s your role in that competition?

A:  As a team we keep track of the points for every model, all the stores and the designers for each item.    

Q:  I understand that you attended FIT for Design and Merchandising.  How did that experience shape you?

A:  I graduated from FIDM, the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, in Los Angeles as a visual communications major, magna cum laude.  My first job was with Nicole Miller where I was asked to assist the designer on an AIDS fashion show featuring model icon Cheryl Tiegs.  After graduating, Nordstrom offered me a position as the Visual Director for one of their largest stores on the West Coast.   Five years later I’m in Charleston, at fashion week.     

Q:  Outside of CFW what other projects are you working on?

A:  As the owner of inventivENVIRONMENTS, a company that designs and produces social and corporate affairs.  This past year I partnered with Charleston Place and Elm PR on the Festival of Wreaths.  Most recently I donated services to the American Heart Association’s Heart Ball, have a project in Virginia, and look forward to visiting snowy Park City for the Sundance Film Festival.  

Q:  How do you see the role of Fashion evolving in the Holy City in years to come?

A:  This is burgeoning fashion community in so many facets from fashion and jewelry designers, to boutiques and vintage shops.  The colleges and schools also bring a flair and flavor that’s young and fresh.  What does the future hold?  I see King Street extension buzzing with sewing machines and Noisette as the new hot spot for designer studios. 

Q:  What are your plans after the shows?

A:  Sleep.

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