Monday, April 23, 2012

The producers: Lara Karamian - MBFWA SS 12/13

backstage at miss couture SS1112, sydney, may 2011/lara karamian
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia starts next Monday in Sydney and today, the event began to bump in to the Overseas Passenger Terminal site. Production teams are scrambling to put the finishing touches to show concepts. Yesterday, as part of frockwriter's pre-MBFWA serieswe posted a chat with producer Mark Vassallo. And now here is a Q+A with Lara Karamian, arguably the busiest producer of the week. Karamian has been with Australian Fashion Week for 12 years. After graduating from the University of Technology of Sydney in 2000 with a Bachelor of Management – and a major in event management – she worked as an event producer for Spin Communications, the sister company of Fashion Week founder Australian Fashion Innovators, eventually moving onto Fashion Week proper as an in-house producer. In 2005, Karamian founded her own independent events company called LARA INC and today counts Alex Perry, Lisa Ho, Toni Maticevski, David Jones, Marie Claire, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Australia's Next Top Model among her clients. 

alex perry SS1112, may 2011/lara inc.
Which shows are you producing this year?

  1. Lisa Maree
  2. Camilla
  3. Miss Unkon
  4. Toni Maticevski RTW
  5. Toni Maticevski Couture [off-schedule: Thursday 26th April] 
  6. Talulah
  7. Michael Lo Sordo
  8. Toi et Moi
  9. Lisa Ho
  10. Oroton
What are the challenges involved in producing a fashion show and can you just please explain briefly what exactly it is that a show producer does?
'Show producer' is a very loose term and can mean different things for different shows. Some people like to call themselves creative directors, who have producers execute their vision, however in my case I am both a creative director, producer and show caller in effect [caller = the person who sends the models out onto the runway, one by one] as I execute my own creative ideas, choreograph my shows then show call them, running my show from beginning to end. I then commission the best in the business from a technical point of view to work with me on lighting and music direction. In summary, I work with my clients from the ground up starting off with understanding the inspiration behind a collection before we start the creative process. We cover: model casting, show calling and choreography, venue selection, set build, lighting design, creative direction, budget management and sponsorship sourcing.

In Australia budget is generally the first challenge we are faced with however, more often than not, once we come up with a creative for our client, they want it to happen so much that they get the wheels in motion for a sponsorship injection.

On-site shows also pose another challenge and that is time allocated to rehearsal. Each designer accesses the venue three hours pre show starting from backstage, models going into hair and makeup, which leaves us approximately ten minutes to do rehearsal. This is where the experience of a show caller comes into play. You have to make sure you use that time wisely as the designer's entire season of work depends on how the show caller pulls it all together and briefs the models, lighting and sound designers within that time.

The other challenge for me personally is managing my show schedule as LARA INC. tends to work on the most amount of shows every season and ends up with doing quite a number of back to back shows in the first three days of the week, which means the utmost organisation and scheduling needs to be in place.

1/ with gail elliott before little joe SS1112. 2/with models before magdalena velevska SS1112/lara karamian

What is the vibe behind-the-scenes in the lead up to this year's event? Same as usual or different and if so, how so?
AHHHHHH...MAZING vibe! The schedule is full and the IMG production team have done a great job in bringing back a third on-site venue this year “The Tent” which gives us more flexibility. No doubt an on-site show always has some restrictions and guidelines which you have to work within however the benefits tend to outweigh this, especially for those designers on a budget, as IMG provide the generic infrastructure for the designers at a fraction of the price it costs to execute their own show at an off-site location. My team and I are working on 10 shows this season, which means working around the clock, however I have been working on fashion week for over 12 years now and have the workflow down pat. Adrenalin and the love of what I do keeps me going every year.

In terms of show casting, which new faces  do you have your eye on this year?
Not necessarily all new faces however I have my eye on:

Annabella Barber @ Priscillas
Alicia @Chadwicks
Laura Gorun @ Priscillas
Avril @Viviens
Rose @Chic
Hannah M @Chic
Katerina @ Chadwicks
Lauren Brown @ Priscillas
Montana @Chic

What are some of your most memorable/funniest/most stressful show moments from previous Australian Fashion Weeks?


- Model agencies have a tendency to change models names to something unique. In this case a girl was named after a city in Australia. While checking off the models backstage going into hair and make up, we kept calling her by this city and of course as she wasn’t used to her “new” name she didn’t respond. After one and a half hours of back and forth calls to her agent, who insisted she was on-site, we found her curled up in a corner waiting to be called in.
- Leo Sayer backstage at the One Teaspoon show [2006]. I don’t even know where to begin with this story, let your imagination take you where you would like it to!

Stressful  and funny:

- A burst water main backstage at the Cargo Hall, the now “Theatre” mid show while girls were lined up,
- A bench seat collapsing front row at Toni Maticevski’s show which had Michael Klim and Ian Thorpe sitting on it. I could see it in my monitor while calling the show and didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
- Chasing down models who run from show to show, even when their agency tells you they haven't been booked on the  show prior to yours.


Every show we work on is memorable in its own way, however Alex Perry, Toni Maticevski, Lisa Ho, Camilla, Lisa Maree, Miss Unkon and Rachel Gilbert are always memorable.

backstage at hussy SS1011, sydney, may 2010/frockwriter

How do you think the standard of show production has evolved at the event – and how do you think it compares to the international circuit?

It has changed a lot over the 12 years I have worked on the event. I think Australian designers are now highly regarded on the international circuit, along with Australian models and therefore the standard of shows has increased to a whole new level. The production of a show isn’t necessarily [just] the set etc. It could simply be a fabulous combination of a well cast (models) show with memorable music and of course a unique collection. This year also sees newcomers to Fashion Week - like Oroton, who will take production to a whole new level with the team that we have in place, a collective of local and international specialists. 


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