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The energy backstage on Wednesday night was a bit different from the opening night of CFW 2012. The afternoon started off tranquil and organized, with models napping on lounges or reading in chairs while awaiting their turn with the hair and makeup team, but several quick changes loomed like thunderheads on the evening’s horizon.

For those not familiar with the term “quick change”, it’s the stylists’ equivalent to a small miracle. The moment a fully dressed and styled model sets foot off the runway, he or she is literally grabbed by a runway coordinator and dragged along tottering on stilettos through the hair and make up tent, pausing briefly to shed clothing and yank on a new garment before landing in a makeup chair. At that point, no less than three four hair and makeup stylists descend on the model in a flurry of finishing spray, foundation, straightening irons, and eyeliner. Within a few minutes, the model is completely transformed. The protective drape is ripped from their shoulders, and he or she is again grabbed by the hand to half sprint, half totter back in line for the runway.

A lot of planning goes into these small miracles, requiring the stylists to multitask and work as a team throughout the day, which they did like champions. Each model is styled, made up, retouched, approved, and fitted. Then they receive body retouching, are lined up, are given another critical look, receive another round of retouching, and then are lined up in the door way before the backstage of the runway.

The Tommy Bahama models were lined up in the holding area long before the first fashionistas grabbed a drink in the Style Lounge and headed to their seats, and meanwhile the JLINSNIDER models could be spotted practicing in their stunning but absurdly high platform heels. The gorgeous shoes were clearly not meant for the uneven bricks of Marion Square, and at least four of the girls stumbled backstage. What’s the fashion world’s answer to ill-fitting footwear, you might ask? Tampons, I was shocked to find out. One stylist was tasked with the job of opening deconstructing a new box of tampons to stuff cotton in between the models’ feet and shoes, a surprising but very important task. Fortunately, the benefit of dressing models long before the show is that it gives them a chance to get accustomed to their garments and outrageous footwear, like those worn in Emerging Designer Ra Jang’s show.

Emerging Designer team Bob & Kris Galmarini’s pint-sized models lined up for the runway without the slightest trace of nerves, though two of the fledgling fashion icons could be heard arguing about their runway poses. “I’m going to do THIS!” one child declared, holding arms akimbo. “No, I’m doing that,” the wee model behind them argued loudly. It all worked out, however, and the design duo won People’s Choice.

Jessica Patricia Krupa’s sexy swimwear took the catwalk next, while Angela Sum’s models received finishing touches... which in that case meant actually making the models look paler. Her ethereal look was solidified by carefully coiffed hair topped with finely textured thread, and one of her girls was whisked through a quick change by the extremely hardworking team of runway coordinators. Ra Jang and Nina Awasum’s shows received loud applause, and by the time featured designer Michael Wiernicki’s captivating first look took the stage, all the hair and makeup team was crowded around the flat screen to enjoy watching the fruits of their labor.

There was one final adrenaline rush to cap off the evening, however, when a section of the train of Michael Wiernicki’s final look swept beneath the backdrop and appeared about to snag for a half second. In that fraction of a second, time stood still for everyone backstage but the runway coordinators, who moved faster than any athlete I’ve ever seen. Their vigilance was unnecessary, however, and the finale came off without a hitch. The team backstage heaved one collective sigh of relief, and then packed up and headed off to celebrate another successful day of fashion at the CFW after party.

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