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How to Become a Runway Coach

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Most of us cannot imagine ourselves skipping lightly up and down a runway in fabulous designer garb. Even those who are paid to be runway models are often groomed by runway coaches. These unseen talents of the fashion world help models move with confidence, grace and a strong presence. A runway coach can work for a modeling school or agency, or for fashion show producers. He also might find opportunities coaching non-models to perform in charity projects.

Attain success as a runway model by booking regular work in a major fashion center, such as New York City, Paris or Milan. You also can gain credibility by working regularly for a few years as a runway model in your own city. Charleston Pierce, an in-demand runway coach in San Francisco, never modeled outside of San Francisco. Celebrity runway coach Michael Maddox of Los Angeles, who has appeared on "Models of the Runway" and MTV's "Made," started as a fashion show producer. On the other hand, Shailah Edmonds, New York City runway coach and creator of the video, "Runway to Success," spent two and a half years working the runway for top couture houses in Paris, such as Yves St. Laurent, Dior and Givenchy.

Create your marketing collateral. In any creative business, you need marketing material that not only describes what you do but reflects your personal style. In fashion especially, you want your business cards, flyers, brochures and website to capture your essence and make a bold impression. Develop a powerful logo to appear on your materials, or at least use a color scheme to unify the pieces. Consider carefully the font and type characteristics. You are selling your skills, but also your personality and spirit. Generic marketing materials will not do the trick.

In brochures, postcards, flyers and on your website, include dynamic photos of yourself on the runway. Let potential clients know if you have modeled for prestigious agencies, designers, couture houses or department stores. You also can include video of yourself on the runway. If you have video of models you have worked with, post those as well.

Make yourself known to fashion show producers. If you feel more comfortable starting small, you can, but there is no harm in sending your materials to larger, more established producers from the get-go. You can find fashion show producers in cities large and small throughout the United States. Some might produce top-level shows using agency models for well-known designers. Others might work for department or specialty stores. Some producers employ inexperienced new models to showcase the work of new designers. Others, such as the Junior League of San Francisco, produce shows that use non-models in support of a charitable cause. Mail your marketing collateral to these potential clients, then follow up with a phone call a week or so later. Network with fashion professionals in your locale, attending and getting to know people at fashion shows, parties and receptions. A well-placed word from an industry insider can work wonders in terms of launching your career.

Make yourself known to modeling agencies and schools. Agencies are continually taking on new models. From New York to Sacramento to Houston, many take time and trouble to groom "new girls," on everything from makeup application and personal presentation to walking the runway. Though some agencies are run by former models who do in-house coaching themselves, many are not. In either case, you can present yourself as an outside consultant who offers individualized sessions to further develop both new and experienced models. Modeling schools abound. If you want to develop a long-term coaching career, be careful about the agencies and schools where you choose to work. Many so-called modeling schools charge their students hundreds or thousands of dollars for classes and/or workshops. These organizations often falsely promise that students will be able to find steady work as models upon course completion. There are also "agencies" that promise their new recruits plenty of bookings as long as they shoot portfolio images with a certain photographer. There are also agency-school hybrids that hook students into paying high class fees by dangling the promise of regular agency bookings. None of these organizations are above-board. If you associate yourself with any one of them, you risk losing credibility among true fashion professionals.

  • Colette Cole; First Models and Talent Agency of the Woodlands; The Woodlands, Texas
  • Irene Marie; Retired Owner, Irene Marie Agency; Miami, Florida
  • Charleston Pierce Presents

D. Laverne O'Neal, an Ivy League graduate, published her first article in 1997. A former theater, dance and music critic for such publications as the "Oakland Tribune" and Gannett Newspapers, she started her Web-writing career during the dot-com heyday. O'Neal also translates and edits French and Spanish. Her strongest interests are the performing arts, design, food, health, personal finance and personal growth.