With only a few days left before FAST’s annual runway show on May 24th, the excitement in the air is palpable. Behind the scenes, FAST committees are scrambling to complete finishing touches so that our lovely attendees will have the experience of a lifetime. This year’s show promises to be bigger and better than ever before under the leadership of president Blanka Nakova and vice president Kathleen Knight.
Read on to get all the exclusive details from these two and get a glimpse into the making last year’s show!
Hello! Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Blanka: My name is Blanka Nakova, and I’m an international student from Macedonia. I’m graduating this spring with a Major in Economics and a Minor in Italian. I joined FAST as one of the designers my sophomore year, and last year I served as the Designer Director. This year, I am FAST’s President but also one of our designers. My personal style has been reflected in all my lines throughout the years and is mostly based on neutral colors such as sand gray, white and a lot of black. However, this year I am incorporating lots of color in my line. As I’ve spent the last 4 years living in LA, my previously very European and preppy style has become intermixed with the more laid back, athleisure LA style I’m surrounded by here.
Kathleen: I’m Kathleen Knight, a graduating senior in Environmental Science with a concentration in Environmental Systems and Society and a minor in Conservation Biology. I’ve been a part of FAST for all of my four years at UCLA. I started as a model my freshman year, was the Model Director, a model,and a designer my sophomore year, was the Editorial Director and a model my junior year, and this year I am the Vice President. I grew up in Southern California, and my personal style has definitely been shaped by my childhood in a small beach town. I incorporate a lot of bohemian, flowy and soft fabrics into what I wear and have always loved delicate lace. I can usually be found wearing leggings and funky graphic tees while I bike around UCLA’s campus, but love an occasion to wear over the top, one-of-a-kind pieces – I love wearing pieces that are totally unique and have a story.
What are you most looking forward to in this year’s show?
B: We have invested a lot more time, energy, and funds into this year’s show as opposed to previous years, so my favorite part will definitely be seeing it all come together in the production, stage and development of the actual show. We also have more designers than ever before (23 lines by 27 designers), and I’m very excited to see their vastly different styles come together on one stage.
K: This will be the biggest show to date in FAST at UCLA’s history. We’ve worked really hard with our executive board and committees, our models, and our designers to ensure that the show is incredibly well done and extensively highlights student creativity and talent. I love the energy of the show (and of show week). I usually don’t end up sleeping for a few days, but the excitement of being backstage before the show starts, and the feeling of ultimate accomplishment after the curtains close is honestly one of the most exhilarating and rewarding feelings, and is what keeps me coming back to FAST every year.
What’s the theme of this year’s show, and how did you come to pick this theme?
B: We don’t really set a specific theme for the show, however this year in general for the club’s graphics and general aesthetic, we’re going with a very minimalist white, and accents of combination of pink and red. The color palette is definitely influenced by today’s trends, however it is executed in a manner that is subtle and unique, such as in our FAST shirts.
K: Through our minimalist show aesthetic, we’re really focused on emphasizing the collection designs as the centerpieces of the show. Since every designer creates something special and unique, we don’t want an overall theme to distract from the art that our designers present to UCLA. We’re so excited to showcase the designs this year, and are excited to see how each line will be represented at the show.
What will be different this year compared to previous years?
B: The most notable difference will definitely be the stage, which is made by industry standards this year, and it’s 8 feet wide, with blank walls and projectors. In addition to that, we will have a larger audience than ever before, and we are aiming to reach 800 guests as opposed to the 400 we had last year.
K: The extensiveness and attention to detail that we’ve worked on this year will definitely be noticeable! As this will be the largest and most elaborate show in FAST at UCLA’s long history, the level of sophistication that encompasses this year’s show will definitely stand out to the audience and our FAST members. We were fortunate enough to participate in UCLA Spark, which is a UCLA-based crowdsourcing campaign that allowed us to raise donations in order to support our vision for this year’s show.
How has FAST been working together as a whole to pull the show together?
B: Each committee has contributed to the tremendous effort that we as a club have put into this show. Starting from the Finance Committee, who have put in countless hours into the funding apps to get us the funds we need for this enormous production, to PR, Blog, Editorial, and Video, all of which have created and shared amazing content to promote our club throughout the year, as well as the show in these past few weeks. Additionally, the production of the show has definitely been helped by the effort of the behind the scene team formed by the Production and Events committee. And of course, the show can’t be successful without all the hard work of our Designers and the tireless practice of the Models who will be walking the Show on May 24.
K: Collaboration between the executive board, committees, models, and designers has successfully ensured that this show will be the most phenomenal one yet. Each team has put in a tremendous amount of effort and dedication to creating and producing the show. Every year we begin our preparations in September, and from there on out it only gets crazier! It’s so important that every team works together in order to connect the various aspects of the show, and the work done by FAST as a whole this year is truly unprecedented. Through effective management and communication, we’ve really been able to create a successful show.
Why do you think people should come see the show?
B: As we don’t have a Fashion Design or Management Major or Minor at UCLA, attending our show would be a great way for those even remotely interested in fashion to immerse themselves into the world of the fashion industry, and also enjoy an evening of elevated style and elegance as we transform Pauley Pavilion into an industry level venue, and a runway UCLA has never seen before.
K: As UCLA’s only fashion organization, what we do to highlight student talents and creativity is truly remarkable. As a student group, the ability for so many people from diverse backgrounds to come together and produce an event of this scale is impressive. Each of our designers, models, and members brings something unique to FAST, and the ability to emphasize and celebrate this is what makes our annual runway show such a wildly popular event. I think that it’s important for other UCLA students to support the talents of their peers, and the runway show certainly showcases this!
What can people expect to see in this year’s show?
B: Expect lots of new and refreshing ideas reflected by the pieces of our 27 young designers. The clothes that will be presented vary greatly in style, from casual streetwear to red carpet worthy evening gowns, so there is definitely something for everyone to enjoy. In addition to the Runway show, we will also enjoy the performance of the UCLA based dance group SOULA during intermission, and the tunes by DJ Tony.
K: Get excited to see a lot of unique collections this year! Each year we have so many diverse lines, but with 27 designers, this will be one of the most exciting and expansive shows ever. We’re excited to present the talents of our FAST community, in addition to the talents of dancers and DJs from the UCLA community. Pauley Pavilion is quite an impressive and famous landmark in itself, but what we’ve been able to do inside of it for our runway show will be amazing!
Reflecting upon last year, which brands did collaborations with FAST?
B: We have collaborated with esteemed brands such as Reformation, Theory 2.0, Revolve, and Madewell, but also with lesser known brands such as Les Georgettes from Paris, and Kestan, TOBI, Kinsley and Bare Anthology which were part of our show last year. At this year’s show, we also have a gift bag for our VIP guests which will include goodies from MAC, Marie Claire, and lots of other sponsors.
How did you organize last year’s show?
B: Each exec member had weekly tasks and responsibilities which were assigned to them, and they completed with the help of their committee members. As mentioned before, since there are many aspects in planning a show of these proportions, and each aspect falls into the realm of responsibilities of each of our Exec Members and their committees, which is how the tasks were also divided. Kat and I oversaw their work, in addition to taking care of tasks of our own and keeping up with the communication with our venue representative at Pauley.
K: Delegating tasks to an efficient team is key! Our Executive Board this year was full of successful individuals, and they all really immersed themselves in putting the show together. Through working together, we were able to create a vision for the show that emulated how we wanted to highlight the talents of our members. Like I mentioned earlier, it takes a long time to produce the show. We start planning in September, and from there on out it only gets busier. We work hard all year to fundraise for the show through a variety of opportunities, and work with many different UCLA groups for support in producing the show.
What do you think were the most difficult parts of putting together the show?
B: The most difficult part is definitely keeping everyone motivated as we get closer to the show, since our club is composed only of students who have exams and other responsibilities as well during this hectic period. Since all of us have to balance our private and academic lives with tasks which people in the industry actually do as full time jobs, I would say that motivation and maintenance of the tempo was definitely the most challenging part for me.
K: The amount of work it takes to produce the show is definitely a challenge! There are so many details that you wouldn’t expect. What the audience will see at the show is a combination of all of those small things–how many lights will we need to set up? How do we finance changing the runway dimensions? What color backdrop do we need to get? All of these minor details are decisions that we make all year long, and they all have an impact on the final production. There are so many small things that go unnoticed by the audience, but they are all things that we had to discuss and decide on.
What part of the show do you feel was most rewarding?
B: The most rewarding part is definitely seeing everything set up before the show as well as walking out on the stage on the final walkthrough and getting that rush of adrenaline and satisfaction which is shared between all participants. In addition to that, hearing from our guests and making sure they are happy and enjoyed the show, is also a very satisfying aspect as well.
K: The feeling right before the show starts is one of the best feelings: we’ve spent nine months preparing, a week setting up, and the audience is sitting in their chairs, waiting for everything to start. I like to try to peek out at the audience and take it all in right after we dim the lights and right before the music starts–it makes me feel so proud of the work everyone has put in, and how excited we are to share our production with the audience.
Going back to previous shows, what have you learned from your past experiences?
B: Since I have been in FAST for 3 years in total, two of which I have worked on Exec, I would say the main thing I learned is that all things take patience and persistence in communication. Since we are working in a team of 160 students, sometimes it can be challenging to reach and be understood by all of them, but I believe that the most valuable skill I have obtained throughout the years, is firstly, the ability to organize the individual committees in a mode that works well both internally and in the context of the club as a whole, and more importantly the ability to be patient in communicating, especially with such a large club.
K: The ability to effectively motivate and manage such a large organization has been a great experience for me. Being able to communicate and lead people is essential for the show–especially during the months of preparation before the actual event. I feel as though I’ve grown a lot as a leader this year, and being involved as the Vice President of FAST has provided me with great managerial and communication skills.
Are there any elements from previous shows that you’re incorporating in this year’s show?
B: Even though the basic concept of the FAST Runway Shows is the same every year, where we run a completely student organized show, this year I would say that we have taken it to another level. The most important aspect we have improved upon is definitely the stage, and in addition to that we have reached far more people and promoted our presence on campus as well as the show, which will hopefully result in our expected number of guests.
K: The show will definitely represent the incredible growth FAST has experienced this past year. We have really become a prestigious organization through our dedicated efforts, and I really think that this will be apparent to the audience. Our on campus presence is at an all time high, and our engagement with the UCLA community and the Los Angeles fashion industry has enabled us to better showcase the many talents and passion of our members.
Is there any one year that stood out in particular to you? Why?
B: This year will definitely be the best, since we are holding the biggest and most organized show yet, including a full red carpet and more lines than ever before.
K: This year! FAST has grown so much in the past year, and we couldn’t be prouder to share that with everyone this year through the show.
How can people get involved in the fashion show next year?
B: Apps for new members will be out in the Fall so for those interested I would recommend keeping an eye out for the Annual Info Session and for the App release date, all of which will be posted on our Instagram (@fastatucla) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/FASTatUCLA), as well as on our blog (www.fastatucla.com).
K: Connect with us on social media and follow our blog! We do so much more than just the show (although it’s a huge part of what we do). You can stay connected with us during the year as we bring you exciting content, internship and job opportunities, and ways to connect to the fashion industry. You’ll also find the application to join a FAST at UCLA committee, be a designer, or model in the show and editorial shoots this coming Fall on our social media and blog pages!
Doesn’t the show sound bomb.com? We hope you’re as pumped as we are and would love to see your beautiful faces in the audience. Tickets are officially sold out!
Huge thanks to Blanka and Kathleen for their time and leading the execution of our fashion show.
All photos courtesy of FAST Editorial.