Here is a link to an interview with runway coach Connie Fleming on lookbooks.com !
Walk the Walk: An interview with runway coach Connie Fleming
As New York Fashion Week approaches, hundreds of new faces roam through the streets of Manhattan, girls fighting for their own space under the spotlights of the runways; for many, one booking is the golden opportunity and key to a long and successful career, so getting the job isn’t enough, the performance is all that matters. But how do these girls prepare for the dreaded castings? And ultimately, how do they know what to do when they are asked to walk the walk?
Connie Fleming is the answer to many of those young faces, who sometimes have learned “how to walk” in their home countries or even at home, watching videos on YouTube, and need to perfect the techniques and many many times need to relearn from scratch.
Connie was catapulted into the fashion world in the 80’s in the midst of the downtown fashion and performance art scene. She caught the attention of designers like Patricia Field and Andre Walker who booked her to model their collections and shortly after she fell into graces with the likes Thierry Mugler and Vivienne Westwood. Connie’s career as a model was established and photographers like Steven Klein and Steven Meisel confirmed she was a must-book.
Having dabbled a little bit in the art scene and in production and casting for her long time friend Patricia Field, Connie gained enough experience and know how to then move on to a new realm and explore a career as a runway coach. With names like Arlenis Sosa, Hanne Gabby Odiele, Erin Heatherton and Brooklyn Decker on her resume, Connie has a brilliant array of experience to share with the young girls:
What do you like about teaching these young girls to walk the runways?
Helping them to build their confidence and watching them grow and adapt to the creative process.
One would think that all they have to do is put on their outfit, a good face and walk; but if there is the need for a runway coach I am assuming there is a lot more to it?
Yes there’s attitude, feeling, pace, connecting with the eyes. Being in the moment and part of the overall statement.
What is the most important thing for these girls to learn?
To be aware of the clients direction and style, the importance of creating a line or shape, and again being comfortable in their bodies.
Do the model’s agents give you directions of something that they are looking for or interfere with your work in any way?
It’s different for each girl and what she needs at the time. It might be a certain style for a specific show or to help ease them out of their shell. I really haven’t experienced an interfering vibe and ultimately the agent knows the model best. More importantly they get feedback from casting directors and clients so it’s more like everyone coming together to make the process work.
Is there anything that frustrates you as a runway coach?
Time, when there isn’t enough of it to prepare a girl fully for show week.
Are you proud to see the girls you coached glowing in campaigns, editorials and fashion shows?
Naturally. It’s great to see them utilize techniques we’ve practiced in class.
Do you still have a relationship with them?
We run into each other from time to time but they’re off making fashion and i couldn’t be happier for them.
What is the most important advice you would give to the young girls who aspire to become models?
Familiarize yourself with the business, the designers, the labels, the websites and magazines. And realize it’s a tough business that can be quite harsh; it requires a thick skin to not take it all too personally.
What do you still aim to achieve in this industry?
There are many avenues of the business that i would like to pursue. I ‘m working on several projects such as my illustrations which i’ve been working on for years and plan to exhibit soon.