Usually, right before Fashion Week designers are hard at work finishing their collections. So how do they manage to find time to pull together amazing presentations and shows? They hire experts, of course! Meet Laurie DeJong, the CEO of LDJ Productions, which handles shows for the likes of Christian Siriano, Helmut Lang, Thom Browne, and more. LDJ Productions also helps the Academy of Art University produce its annual graduate show at NYFW. Below, DeJong gives us the scoop on what her job entails, and what we can expect from this season’s Academy of Art show.
When do you guys typically begin working on fashion week shows for your clients?
Typically we start about 6 months out on general concepts but most of the work happens within the 8 weeks prior to show.
How much do you know about a designer’s collection before you start planning?
The designer will brief us on overarching theme, look and feel of the collection. It’s important that all components of the show are consistent with the designer’s vision. This includes venue selection, set design, music, lighting, models, hair/makeup and all other show elements.
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What kinds of requests do clients have? How do you handle situations when requests are just not possible?
We have had every request one could ever imagine and always make the best effort to accommodate requests. Usually when something is unachievable due to budget or other logistics we let the designer and their teams know asap.
How does the team balance coming up with a really memorable show without overshadowing the collection?
The elements of the show are always designed to complement the collection and not overshadow. Our clients are our partners and collaborators so when teams work together successfully we avoid this.
How long has LDJ Productions been working with The Academy of Art University?
We have been involved with the production of the show since 2010. The University is one of a kind in the U.S. and the artistry that comes out of the design department is always one of the most creative and inspiring shows of the season. It is on par with the best schools in Europe and the talent chosen to show during Fashion Week are top of their class. Simon Ungless, the executive director of the program, has taken this department to another level and the design department has set itself apart from all other fashion schools in the U.S. Working with students is particularly rewarding for us. To be involved with designers at this stage in their career is exciting.
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What are the challenges in creating a event that has to support different designers at one time?
We work with Simon and his team to ensure that every designer has an opportunity to shine yet there is still a consistent vision so that the show represents the overall AAU brand as well as the individual designers.
Can you tell me anything about the Academy’s show this year?
Elevated and upscale. The show will be at Skylight at Vesey which is the original home of the New York Mercantile Exchange. It’s a piece of NY history and is one of the only venues in NYC with over 30’ of column free space with 40’ ceilings. It was the location that housed the top entrepreneurial visionaries of that era and a great venue for designers and innovators to create their own vision.
How does it feel to be part of a young designer’s New York Fashion Week debut?
I personally love working with students and young designers. At this stage of their careers there are no limits to what they can create and we always look forward to the freshness that they bring to NYFW.