Tibi: Model castings and late-night vodkas

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Designer Amy Smilovic a few days before her fall 2013 collection hits the runway.
Photo by Miles Dixon

We asked Tibi designer Amy Smilovic to keep a diary of her pre-fashion show prep.  Here’s what it takes to put on a runway show at New York Fashion Week:

 5:30 a.m.: “I wake up and immediately get on Style.com, then e-mail Traci [Bui-Amar], my head designer. She’s the last person I e-mail at night and the first person I e-mail in the morning. I’m sure both of our husbands are like, ‘Cut it out!’”

 7 a.m.: “Get the kids off to school. Breakfast is a PowerBar — for the kids, too. They’re like, ‘Mom, can we make something?’ I’m like, ‘No. Off in the car with a PowerBar.’ Then I’m on the train.”

 8:30 a.m.: “I get into the city and grab my third cup of coffee from the deli: French vanilla mixed with strong Columbian. I can’t deal with lines at Starbucks.”

8:45 a.m.: “I walk into the office and run into literally about 75 models lined up, ready to start casting. I take a seat on the couch with my casting director and two of my design team members, and the girls start walking. If they pass, then they try on one of the outfits from the show and they walk in that. Probably only one out of every 10 girls makes it to the outfit change. I always feel bad! What can I say? I’m from the South.”

 12:30 p.m.: “A box for the collection arrives: We open it and realize the hooded sweatshirts are in cashmere instead of merino wool like they were supposed to. I don’t freak out — it’s just not worth it. We start placing embroidery things on them and move them into holiday, and make it work. People talk about trends, but sometimes trends start because the factories sent you the wrong damn thing.”

 1 p.m.: “We break for lunch. I make a protein shake with Fage yogurt, spinach, ginger, coconut water, strawberry, banana and pomegranate powder. Leandra Medine [of Manrepeller], who’s in to see the collection, comments on how professional my smoothie looks. She’s into kale right now, so not doing the spinach thing. Whatever.”

 3 p.m.: “Traci and I start butting heads. I decide to go for a walk. This is my third one today. She always says that I’m just trying to make something look ‘cool’ or I’m just trying to make it look ‘designer.’ And I’m like, ‘Really? ’Cause I don’t want it to look cool?’ But we know that when we fight before a show, that’s when there’s usually the best outcome.”

 7 p.m.: “Casting is wrapped up and we start our pricing meeting. Merchandisers look at if you have enough things at X price and Y price, so it’s very long and tedious.”

 8p.m.: “We break for dinner.  We order from Yo sushi — our favorite. I get my usual, shrimp tempura.”

10 p.m.: “Meeting is done. We need a drink. We keep alcohol here. I like to drink straight vodka with lots of ice and lots of olives. We get PR involved and now it’s turned into a drinks slash social media brainstorm for Fashion Week.”

 11:30 p.m.: “Home at last. I immediately e-mail Traci. I have a great idea! Then I’m in bed with ‘Flight Behavior’ by Barbara Kingsolver. Before I sleep, I check Dlisted — it’s hilarious.”
Getting ready
Fashion Week lifesavers: “To clear my head and keep calm before the show, I’ve been turning to Jessie Ware on repeat, Tommy Ton’s style pictures from the Paris couture shows and dreaming of a trip to Hotel Salto Chico. I also load up on bags of chocolate, loads of coffee, sushi, my kids, mindless reality TV (“Housewives”), a massage and my amazing Tibi team.”

Pre-show rituals:
“I totally believe in karma, so pre-Fashion Week, I tip everyone really well — waiters, cab drivers, manicurists, everybody.”

 The perfect Fashion Week outfit:
“I live in comfort pieces like my R13 jeans, an oversized sweater and a Celine flat ankle boot


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