Your Questions: How Should I DJ A Fashion Show?

Joey Santos
Read time: 2 mins
Last updated 11 April, 2018

Our reader wants to know how he should approach selecting music and DJing at a fashion show.

Digital DJ Tips reader Sergio Comani writes: “I’ve just been hired to DJ at a fashion show. It will be the typical event where models walk the runway several times, and will last for around three hours. Any tips? Should I change the song for every model walk? Any recommended tempo, volume, or energy? Thank you.”

Digital DJ Tips Says:

Unless you’re a well-known DJ who was picked specifically for the type of music that you spin or produce, the tunes you’ll be playing at the show will depend entirely upon the show director or creative head. The first thing to do is to consult with the show’s creative team so you can begin planning your playlist. There are two scenarios for this: The first is the director briefs you on the mood, vibe, and energy that he / she wants during certain portions of the walk, after which you’ll be ask to give songs and music ideas that fit his / her criteria.

The second way is you’ll be given a handful of reference songs that already are a good match for what the director has in mind, and then you’ve just got to present even more tunes to his or her liking.

Either way, it’s important to note that the show runner has the final say, and a wide-ranging taste in music certainly helps here. I used to get booked for this type ofg gig many years ago, and I’d have a sit-down meeting with the show’s creative team and we’d go through swaths of music libraries to pick the ones we’d all agree on. That’s easier these days, thanks to streaming sites like Spotify and YouTube.

If you’re spinning at a more complex fashion show with a programme or performance choreography (think those Victoria’s Secret fashion shows), you’ll have a handful of rehearsals with which to fine tune your music selection and sequence: don’t forget to make playlists and back them up by hand. I once spun at a fashion show where my playlist got corrupted – good thing I was able to reconstruct it using notes I scribbled in a notepad.

You’ll also follow a strict events timetable – ask for a copy of this as early as possible (usually the morning of the show) so you can study it. Always ask for the most recent copy, as changes will often be made leading up to the event – sometimes, even during the event itself!

Music is such an important part of any fashion show because it’s what ties the visual and performance elements together to create an experience. The songs you play essentially become the “voice” and the “emotion” of the models walking since they don’t have any microphones, and often have to appear a certain way (ie aloof). You’re doing more than just mixing songs together: you’re the last point of contact between the designer’s creative vision and the audience, so work it!

Here’s our forum moderator Terry_42 with a bit more advice:

“Speak to the agency doing the event. Some shows have clothing themes, and some have model to model music changes, so it really depends on the way they want it handled. Also, they’ll sometimes have a ‘top model’ wearing the flagship design, and they’ll want special entrance music for that, so keep that in mind. Always try to match your music to the designs and ask for a design overview so you can plan your music well in advance.”

Any fashion show tips you’d like to share with our reader? What was your first fashion show DJ set like? Share your thoughts below.

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