A sneak peek behind the chaos of runway shows in SCAD Atlanta exhibit ‘Backstage Pass’

“Backstage Pass” is on view through April 16 at the SCAD Fash Museum in Atlanta.

Robert Fairer

Have you ever gazed at the glamor of fashion models on the runway and wondered what goes on behind the scenes? At the SCAD Fash Museum of Fashion and Film in Atlanta, Robert Fairer showcases the chaos behind the curtain in “Backstage Pass: Dior, Galliano, Jacobs, and McQueen,” an exhibition on view now through April 16. Fairer and exhibit curator Rafael Gomes spoke with “City Lights” producer Summer Evans about the new show’s insider view of the fashion world.

Interview highlights:

How backstage overtook the catwalk in capturing Fairer’s eye:

“When I first started… I was at the end of the catwalk with many other photographers, and that was wonderful. It was great; I loved doing it. But at a certain point, it wasn’t really challenging anymore. And then one day I saw somebody disappearing off, just before a show, and disappearing behind the curtain, so to speak, down the runway,” said Fairer. “I ran along, had a look, and just this new world opened up to me; it was incredible. I think I’ve said many times, you go back there as a photographer or as somebody with an artistic eye, and you just see creativity everywhere you look.”

“In the past few years, it’s gotten even more extreme that way, with girls being told to have no expression, walk fast, follow each other at exactly the same distance, and it’s become a bit of, in some cases, very automated,” said Fairer. “Of course, backstage, depending on what they’re wearing and depending on what show they were doing… the girls needed to have some character, and certainly when they got into those dresses, they took on a personality.”

“You know how you feel when you get dressed into something special when you’re going out; you feel a certain way, you stand a certain way,” said Fairer. “In many cases, in the images, there’s a personality coming through, or a persona – maybe the dress’s persona – coming through.”

A breakdown of the show’s designers and inside looks:

“When you first come into the gallery, you will see the area that’s dedicated to John Galliano. It’s very playful, very based in his story, incredible hair and makeup. It’s very conceptual, but if you notice the clothes, they are wearable. I will not say commercial, but interesting clothes that you are able to purchase and wear. It’s pret à porter, what in English is ‘ready to wear,’” said Gomes.

“From John Galliano, you come to the area of Marc Jacobs, that’s very different. You will see it’s, of course, an American designer, an American brand,” Gomes said. “The clothes are very different. They are very fun, very wearable, very desirable. The models in the backstage wanted to keep the clothes. It’s a very good mood in the backstage; you will see that it’s the area that’s the most fun of them all. You will really see the easiness in the air in the show.”

“Then across, you come to Alexander McQueen, an enormous production of these incredible showpieces,” Gomes continued. “It’s a mix of ready-to-wear and actually couture. You can see the way that these gowns were created…. It’s an entire feeling that’s brought to the runway. It’s very theatrical, very conceptual. The hair and makeup it’s unbelievable. But you can feel the tension in the air.”

SCAD Fash Museum of Fashion and Film’s new exhibition “Backstage Pass” is on view now through April 16, with a special members-only tour with the curator taking place on Thursday, Jan. 13. More information is available here.