Laura Schara closely eyed the 11 models lined up in a conference room at Macy's Minneapolis store. She hesitated, then stooped down to examine the ankle on a pair of tight black SportMax pants. "Can we shorten this so you can still see the zipper?" she called to the seamstress.
It was the Sunday before Glamorama, and Schara, fashion director for the annual fashion show and daughter of outdoors man Ron Schara, was just getting warmed up. It would take more than nine hours of fittings to bring the show a step closer to being the hot-ticket event it's been for 18 years. "The fashion in the show sets the tone for fall fashion as a whole for the city," she said.
Schara should know. She's been working on the show 10 years, gradually making her way to the top job. It takes her much of the year to put together the hourlong event, doing everything from attending Fashion Week in New York, to casting models, to outfitting them for the runway.
Of course, she's not alone. She directs a team of seven stylists and a seamstress. And, on the day of the show, 42 dressers pitch in to dress 42 models, who hail from Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, even Sweden.
"We fit the whole show in one day -- this train moves," said Schara.
The fittings are only part of Glamorama, which includes live music and choreographed dancers (this year led by Brian Friedman of "So You Think You Can Dance?").
But the fittings, which take place out of the spotlight, are at the heart of the show. And, according to Schara, they're a bit like "playing musical chairs with outfits."
She regularly swaps ensembles from model to model and changes out shoes, hats, belts and handbags to get the right look for the runway.
"Accessorizing enough without over-accessorizing" is the goal, she said. Often, designers don't supply enough shoes or accessories with the runway looks, so the Macy's team has to provide its own props.
"Sometimes we doctor shoes, like we might add rhinestones," said Schara.
And, if they don't have something, they'll make it or find it. When a stiff coat required cinching at the waist, Schara decided to bring in a leather belt from her own closet.
Just after 11 p.m. Sunday, Schara and her team had assembled all 157 looks and assigned them to models. After that, the outfits were altered, restyled and re-accessorized. On Wednesday, the dress rehearsals began. But Schara will probably continue tweaking and calling for alterations until five minutes before the show, she said.
One outfit Schara is still undecided about? Her own. "Many times your feet make your wardrobe decisions for you," she said. "It's all pending on if I can handle sky-high platforms by Friday."
Sara Glassman • 612-673-7177