Throughout my modeling career I’ve been blessed to walk various runways for some of my favorite local designers. I also recently participated in a modeling segment on live TV for my designer and dear friend Inna Rudenko. There is still so much for me to learn and improve, but the secrets I’ve learned thus far have proven themselves invaluable. I am so excited to share with you my tips and tricks for improving your runway technique!
Prepare Before the Show
Make a habit of doing balance-enhancing exercises such as yoga. This is one of the best ways you can prepare for your runway walk (and complicated poses for photoshoots). You never know when you will be given an asymmetrical outfit to wear, something with a tendency to weigh more on a certain side, or a skirt that requires kicking to walk in. The goal of eveningwear and bridal runway walks is to make the outfit appear as if it’s gliding down the walkway. Ideally, your movements should appear fluid and effortless. Any time you are able to build your core strength, body awareness, and movement control will be an investment in a graceful, calculated walk.
Practice!! Practice at home, backstage, in the grocery store… Practice whenever you can. Whenever I find myself in heels and am faced with a straight pathway I will often nonchalantly sneak in a stretch or two of practice. It may feel silly when people are watching, but it will make the crowds and flashing lights seem less intimidating when on-stage.
Start With the Right Shoes
Make sure you have sufficient shoes. Once before I made the mistake of wearing shoes that – while beautiful – made some nasty cuts/blisters by the time it came to walk the runway. Every step was painful…it was a major learning experience.
My runway experience has always included bridal gowns and eveningwear. This means that I’ve always been in long skirts – some full and princess-style, some A-line, some mermaid-cut… The important thing to know about long skirts is that it’s usually frowned upon to carry the dress as you walk. Why is this important in shoe selection? You want to choose shoes that give you enough height so that you are not tripping on the skirt as you walk. The shoes I wear are now a minimum of 6 inches tall. This usually allows me to step with minimal kicking and pull-back to avoid stepping on the hem. Wearing this height of heel can be very risky when walking on a foreign surface, which is why it’s important to…
Ensure your shoes have a strap of some sort for extra support. If you’re able to get shoes with an ankle strap, it will save you so much worry. You’ll be able to step with confidence and know that your foot won’t slip out of the shoe mid-step.
Also, try to find shoes with as wide of a heel base as possible. While the slim heels are definitely attractive and fashionable, I advise a wider heel base for beginners. See if some of the height can be added by a platform at the portion of the shoe that supports the ball of your foot. This will give you additional height without walking more on your toes.
Tailor Your Walk to the Garment
It’s very important to be aware of the features of every garment you are given to wear. Every piece should have the unique features highlighted as you walk and pose. Does the outfit have pockets? Use them in one of your poses. Is there a lovely train on the back of the dress? Make sure it falls nicely and is visible by the cameras when you stop for pictures. Is there a piece that is detachable? Practice detaching it and carrying it the rest of the way off-stage.
You can also let the style of the outfit guide your body language and expressions as you walk. Does the ensemble demand more elegance, confidence, gracefulness, or strength? Aim to be a reflection of the piece you are wearing.
I can’t stress the importance of practicing as much as you can backstage. Familiarize yourself with the way the fabric flows. Make yourself aware of any challenges each piece provides; tight and uncomfortable boning, an immense amount of tulle you need to maneuver as you step, a loose neckline that may fall if you exhale too much… Know what you will need to do to make the piece look it’s best on the stage.
Consult with the Designer
Every designer is different when it comes to their vision for the showing of their collection. I always ask the designer what mood they want to set on the stage. Some have told me to smile, others have told me to keep a straight face. I also ask their inspiration for the specific piece I’m given to wear, so that I may better personify what they want the garment to be. Sometimes things are hectic backstage and you aren’t able to have a full discussion, but seize whatever moments you can in preparation and/or fittings to get on the same page with your designer.
This is another subjective area. Some designers want their collection to be shown at a slower tempo, whereas others prefer a more confident, marching approach. Sometimes the pace at which you’re instructed to walk is different from the music the show has selected to play. Keep this in mind as you take every step.
Also pay attention to the other models. Make sure you start your walk at the appropriate time in relation to the model ahead of you (the designer will usually instruct you on when this moment is to be), and hold your poses for the desired time as well. It’s easy to become nervous and try to complete your walk as quickly as possible, but take a deep breath… Relax as best you can. It always helps me to think to myself; “They aren’t looking at me, they’re looking at the dress.”
This is an area I’m still working on as well. Posing for runway is far different from posing for regular photos in a photoshoot. Try to keep your arms from obstructing the view of the dress as much as possible. I’m still training myself to walk with minimal arm movement and maintain the negative space between my arms and body. Try to provide views of the front, side, and back when possible. Give each pose a few seconds to provide adequate time for the photographers to snap, and be mindful of the angles they are shooting from so that you can provide the most flattering poses possible.
And there you have it! This is what I’ve learned in my runway experience thus far. I can’t wait to learn more and perfect my walk, and I hope my list of tips and secrets helps you on this journey as well!
What strategies do you use when walking down the runway? What questions and stories do you have? Let me know in the comments below!
Photographer: Eric Kinney – www.erickinneyphotography.com – IG: @ekinneymedia
Until next week,