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Tue 24 Aug 2010 04:00 AM

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Runway realities

Behind the glamour of a fashion show is months of preparation, a lot of AV and lighting equipment and the perpetual risk of a model tripping over on the catwalk. S&S gets the low-down from Deepak Ramrakhhiani from Emirates Vision who acted as production manager for last month's Dubai Fashion Fiesta at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

Runway realities
Runway realities

Behind the glamour of a fashion show is months of preparation, a lot of AV and lighting equipment and the perpetual risk of a model tripping over on the catwalk. S&S gets the low-down from Deepak Ramrakhhiani from Emirates Vision who acted as production manager for last month's Dubai Fashion Fiesta at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

S&S: The runway is obviously the focal point of an event like this; tell us about the set up.

There's one runway, it's around 21 metres long and 15 centimetres high, and we've got a backdrop, which is not a normal backdrop. What we're doing here is putting in a watchout system - basically a full projection and we're going to be running graphics on it - with images either side of the runway and designer logo's in the centre. We've got lighting, moving heads, wash-lights - we set them up and then program them on the DMX mixers ahead of time. And we've got projectors - two out in the pre-function section and two out on the watchout section. We've got stadium style seating to hold about 250 people per show - but at a maximum we can fit 280.

S&S: How do you turn an empty space into a venue for showcasing international fashion?

Everything had to be brought in - audio, lights, rigging - it was just a blank canvas to begin with. All of the sound, stage and lighting is Showtech equipment. From the blank space, we're making divisions - for lounges, a media room, backstage - we're putting in drapes, lighting, furniture. We have to make sure it all closes up properly for privacy for the models and designers.

S&S: The event runs over three nights with a number of shows each night - it looks like you'll be pretty busy!

For sure. As well as the red carpet evening we've got three shows per night - three designers per show. The designers are from the UAE, Australia, India, Morocco - from all over the world - 24 all up.

S&S: So how many people do you have working on this event?

We've got a team of 50 setting it all up and during the shows we've got two guys for the AV production, two for the lighting, one for the sound, a DJ and then onsite we've got a team of 30-40 people managing it overall - backstage and everything.

S&S: How did you prepare for the event?

Our entire team sits down and brainstorms ideas, the artwork, the concept and the theme.  We then take this to Showtech and sit down with them and sort out possibilities and work it out together.

It takes two full days to set up but six or seven months of planning so it's a continual thing almost - because we do it every year. We'll start building up for the next one right after this event.
S&S: What theme have you come up with this year?

We wanted more of a classy and elegant look this year and black is the theme - as you can see everything is black, the floor is black, the drapes are black, the stage is black. We've used a thin exhibition carpet to cover the floor and runway so heels don't get caught in it - we don't want any of the models falling over!

S&S: How does working with each designer differ?

We have to take a full briefing from each of them - all 24 - to find out what they want and to understand the collection and how many rounds of models they're having. And some people split their shows into sectors; the first sector might have a different theme than the second sector so we've got to tailor the lighting, the visuals, the music to that. On the sides of the runway we play graphics that represent the designers, so for example one of the designers has a theme of calm and white so we've got clouds and other images playing there to match the look and feel of her clothes.

S&S: What are the challenges you've come up against?

This is an annual event, we've done it every year, this year it's the fourth season and last minute issues are always there for every event. No matter how hard you try nothing is perfect - but we try. Our first season, for example, our lighting was not that great - we spread the lighting really wide and during a fashion show you're just supposed to see the model, not the audience, so this year we've improved it so the lighting is much more direct and only focussed on the models during the show.

Every year has been different, the creative side always changes and we always like to come up with something new. This is the first time we've used a watchout system, normally we use two screens and projectors either side of the runway.

S&S: How about the add-on's - music, models etc.?

We do it all in-house. The DJ we're using is our in-house DJ - DJ Sash. He's got his own name, his own label - but he's the DJ we use for all of our events. He's from India and specialises in Bollywood music - and he's also very familiar with fashion music and has done this event before.

We've got 24 models - seven from the UAE and the rest are coming in from all over the world. We've got an in-house agency so that's all done through us.

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