Behind the Scenes


The Linly Heflin Fashion Show

Written and styled by Tracy James

This month marks the 16th anniversary of my freelance fashion consulting company, ChicMadeSimple. As you might imagine, having a full-time career in fashion in Birmingham, Alabama, requires one to be a sort of jack-of all-trades under the style umbrella. If I lived in, say, New York or Los Angeles, I might only do personal shopping or business style seminars or magazine editorials, for example. But frankly, I love the variety my location affords!

One of the most fun aspects of my job is coordinating runway shows. Many, many years ago, I earned my stripes in this arena by coordinating shows for Parisian, invaluable experience I carry with me to this day. For the past few years I have had the honor of coordinating for Gus Mayer the annual Linly Heflin Fashion Show. (Who the heck is Linly Heflin? See inset.) This October was the organization’s 59th year of the event!  Most people don’t realize what orchestrating a fashion show entails, so this month I’m giving you a special behind-the- scenes peek.   

The Linly Heflin Unit

“Educate a woman and you educate a family.”

Linly Heflin has served the Birmingham community for nearly 100 years, since its inception in 1919. Today, Linly Heflin is a committed group of 100 women dedicated to the mission of educating deserving Alabama women at Alabama colleges and universities. The Scholarship Fashion Show, first held in 1959, continues to be Linly Heflin’s primary fundraiser.

While it can be a bit unnerving to relinquish control to what’s happening backstage, it is rewarding to see all of my work and vision come to life on the runway! In this case, the amazing backstage crew and models did not disappoint.

While it can be a bit unnerving to relinquish control to what’s happening backstage, it is rewarding to see all of my work and vision come to life on the runway! In this case, the amazing backstage crew and models did not disappoint.

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After pulling and styling 124 outfits (whew!), the models come into Gus Mayer for a fitting so I can make sure the look works, as well as decide on shoes and accessories.

After pulling and styling 124 outfits (whew!), the models come into Gus Mayer for a fitting so I can make sure the look works, as well as decide on shoes and accessories.

Models arrive at The Club the afternoon before the show to find their outfits on a rack, organized by segment. Models have 2 changes in each of the 4 segments: I, Autumn Tones, II. Statement Details, III. After Five, & IV: Guest Designer Haute Hippie.

Models arrive at The Club the afternoon before the show to find their outfits on a rack, organized by segment. Models have 2 changes in each of the 4 segments: I, Autumn Tones, II. Statement Details, III. After Five, & IV: Guest Designer Haute Hippie.

After a runway rehearsal during which the models learn entrance/exit cues and get a feel for the music, they are sent to hair and makeup. The team from Forecast salon set up a makeshift hair studio in the Bride’s Room at The Club.   

After a runway rehearsal during which the models learn entrance/exit cues and get a feel for the music, they are sent to hair and makeup. The team from Forecast salon set up a makeshift hair studio in the Bride’s Room at The Club.

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I check all of the outfits once again, going over styling details with the models and making notes for the dressers. (Photo by Chuck St. John)

I check all of the outfits once again, going over styling details with the models and making notes for the dressers. (Photo by Chuck St. John)

Mark Hyde of Forecast was backstage for touch ups - the team even managed to change some styles according to outfit in the seconds before models went on the runway! (Photo by Chuck St. John)

Mark Hyde of Forecast was backstage for touch ups – the team even managed to change some styles according to outfit in the seconds before models went on the runway! (Photo by Chuck St. John)

LOTS of model selfies going on backstage!

LOTS of model selfies going on backstage!

Let the show begin! My backstage crew keeps models in order according to the lineups I’ve given them, and I cue each model from the control booth, where I communicate with them via headsets. (Photo by Chuck St. John)

Let the show begin! My backstage crew keeps models in order according to the lineups I’ve given them, and I cue each model from the control booth, where I communicate with them via headsets. (Photo by Chuck St. John)

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