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As the executive producer of New York’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, it’s Christina Neault’s job to make sure that the show goes on.
WWD: You’ve been involved in the production of New York Fashion Week since 1998. What’s your biggest triumph?
Christina Neault: I think it was the move from Bryant Park to Lincoln Center. After 18 years in Midtown, getting the designers to embrace it was a challenge, but it’s been a very successful move.
WWD: And your biggest challenge?
C.N.: Without question, 9/11, which was right in the middle of fashion week. But we rallied and sent some of our tents down to Ground Zero. That became a collection point for clothing and supplies for the workers there, so it was comforting to know we could help in some small way. And then there was Hurricane Floyd in 1999. The city was shutting us down, but we were able to do Bill Blass’ last show, which was an amazing way to go.
WWD: Walk us through a typical day during collections.
C.N.: I get up at 6 a.m., head over to the tents from my hotel, where I set up camp for the duration, and do a walk around. I will greet the morning’s designers, make sure everything is ready for guests and then it’s troubleshooting the entire day. I watch at least the first three models of every show and then head over to the next show to see that everything is set there. I spend a lot of time lifting velvet ropes for security, and sometimes Andrew Serrano, IMG Fashion’s p.r. manager, makes me do interviews. We have an end-of-day staff meeting and talk about issues that came up and how we can improve things and then do it all over again the next day.
WWD: How many times a season do you hear “Do you know who I am?”
C.N.: It depends on which city, but not as much in New York as most. But my favorite is when they come up to me not really knowing who I am and say, “Well, Christina Neault said I could come,” to which I reply, “I know Christina and she didn’t tell you that.”
WWD: What show was the most fun?
C.N.: There were so many that were favorites for different reasons, but honestly, our Miami event in general is always fun. It’s like being away at camp with the whole IMG team. I mean, where else could you have a meeting in the pool?
WWD: What are the top three beauty items you couldn’t live without?
C.N.: I keep it pretty simple. In Miami, it would be Hawaiian Tropic SPF 15 or higher, and in any city, I love Photo Finish Primer by Smashbox and Maybelline Great Lash mascara.
WWD: Of all the fashion weeks you produce, do you have a favorite city?
C.N.: Of course New York is my favorite because it’s home, but I miss my friends in Los Angeles; Mexico City is fantastic; Mumbai is a total visual overload, and Berlin is such a great walking city. I also love visiting cities like Seoul and Tokyo, seeing how it’s done in other parts of the world.
WWD: What’s the first thing you do when it’s all over?
C.N.: We always have a team toast to a successful week and then I head straight to The Bliss Spa at The W Hotel for a facial, get some sleep and cook a great meal. But don’t forget, when the last show is done we still have eight more days to wrap up. New York Fashion Week is a 35-day job from start to finish. We started loading in last Saturday, Aug. 18.