It may seem innocuous but when it comes to Fashion Week seating is crucial, especially when it comes to the front row. As the seating director at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia, Miro Kubicek is the man in charge of ensuring that the right people end up in the right places, which with last minute no shows, VIPs running late and the occasional attendee trying to secure a spot in the coveted front row, is no easy feat. Having been in the role for over 15 years, Miro has seen more than his fair share of dramas and here he chats to me about how he maintains order at the shows, how fashion has changed over the years and flirting with Anna Wintour…
Can you describe your role?
So my role is seating director of this event. What it basically means is that I have to make sure that the front row is the way it should be or the way it was designed. I’m dealing with the last minute changes and all the small details that actually happens last minute, which is people not showing up or running late, being tied up in meetings, and I’ll get a notification or I’ll get an SMS and I kind of start adjusting. At the end of the day, the front row needs to look right and it needs to be the right people in there.
Why is the front row so important?
Well, look, the designers, this is the time when they’re presenting their collection and they worked really hard and long hours and all that. SO, it is really important because it makes a difference in sales, in exposure, in how the collection is perceived or how it’s received.
It makes a difference in who sees the collection? How does the hierarchy work?
The hierarchy, it’s more like a mixture of things. It’s not like if you just get editors and give them the preference. That’s one dimension of the whole spectrum, when normally we would have couple of aspects of it. You’ve got the media, you’ve got the journalists, you’ve got the celebrity, you’ve got the buyers, and then the socialite and then sort of the exposure on that level. So, you need to just have a good mixture of it all.
And you’re the man to know it.
I can’t remember a Fashion Week where you haven’t been in charge of this. How did you get in to this?
I was always around events and doing different things, but I got engaged so I was asked to come and do Australian Fashion Week, I think maybe it was 2002 and 2003, which was on the events side. There was a guy who was doing seating, I didn’t know that role existed. I was looking at him and I was thinking “That’s a pretty cool role and I would like to do that one day.” I was doing it the next year.
How has the landscape at Fashion Week changed over the years?
Oh, dramatically. It’s changed. We’re talking here, 15/16 years, when I started. So, in those days, there was no social media or blogging or Instagram or the instant feed of the design. Back then, it was really the old fashioned way. Taking the pictures, and then downloading the pictures, and then the magazine would have those pictures, and they published them. Now, very different game. Everything loads instantly. We have the shows on the screen, straight away. Anybody who’s around that can watch it, Facebook Live streams, Instagram Live streams. With that, also the broad difference in the industry.
How do you stay on top of your game with that? Knowing who’s who and who’s the best blogger to celebrity to editor?
The industry is fairly small. The people are more or less the same, they just change publications. That’s on one side. Yes, you have new players in the game, but you just keep on top of it like everybody else. You read, you look at social media, who’s coming up, who’s doing the right thing, who’s doing the nice things about fashion. We also have a delegates list. So we have lists that is released, that’s given to me with all the internationals and all the locals, and every year or every season, I go through and see who has changed and who is new and who I have to get to know a little bit. So you do your research. There goes a couple of weeks before the event, where we literally just study, like you go to University.
What’s your biggest pinch-me moment?
There was few ’cause I’ve been involved with a lot of different Fashion Weeks over the years. I’ve been part of New York Fashion Week and Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Berlin, so there’s a lot of international stuff. I met a lot of really famous people, which is always very exciting. But, you know, as far as fashion, I think the moment with Anna Wintour was really, really special. That goes back to 2008 I think. I looked after her for about a day, a day and a half, and then we were running into each other throughout the week in New York and it was really cool. We were like buddies. We flirted a little bit.
It was fun. It was good.
Well everyone does want to be your best friend because they all want to get front row, that’s for sure.
It’s funny. I come to Sydney to do the Australian Fashion Week every year and it literally is, there’s a group of people that you never hear from until the week before Fashion Week.
“Hey buddy, how are you?” It’s like oh, Fashion Week’s coming up, yeah. It’s part of the game. It’s fun.
Any front row faux pas over the years?
Similarly to the previous questions, there’s so many. In general, some nights people can be quite nasty. A lot of people that don’t belong in the front row try to be in the front row, get a little bit aggressive at times. Verbally aggressive, not physically.
Yeah. You’ve seen it also, over the years. People sometimes stubborn, they think if they sit there and don’t move, then nothing’s gonna happen.
I try to control the front row. At the end of the day, it’s like “You’re gonna move.”
Does security ever get called?
No, I don’t think we ever needed to call security for seating. I have a chat and I kind of engage in a manner that, after 30 seconds or 40 seconds of talking to them, they realise that this is not the right thing to do.
All right. Well thank you so much. It’s such an insight into what you do and this whole week, so thank you so much.
Miro: Thank you.
Photography: Sophia Athas and Ash Larden