Baltimore Fashion Week as seen through the eyes of my Chinese exchange student.


Chinese Exchange student Liu Yinglun.
Photo credit: Wendy Kaufman

My Chinese exchange student arrived just in time to help me at Baltimore Fashion Week 2010. She is writing about all of her experiences in America for a Chinese/English newspaper back home. Sadly, it’s only a real-world paper, so there is no link for you to follow more of her articles.

Her article on her backstage experience with me is charming, full of emotion, and a delight to read. I simply had to share it with you. She has a grasp of her second language that is uncommon in a girl her age. I wish I could read her work in her native language.

Here is her article from  21century English Newspaper.

Ready to rock the catwalk?

Liu Yinglun

“Could you button up this gown for me? See, it’s right here on the back.”

“Where is the girl for my black dress? Go get her!”

“OK, girls, get dressed, we’re running out of time.”

The phrase “A baptism of fire”, meaning exceptionally difficult beginning, couldn’t be more suitable to depict my assisting experience at the backstage of Baltimore Fashion Week, for it was on “fire” because of the tense preparation of the approaching runway show in less than 3 hours.

After removing all the hand-made clothes and delicate accessories from Wendy’s green van and dragging them into the backstage by carts, my heartbeat rate had already climbed up to 100 times per minute. However, within just a glance I realized that was nothing but luck. Separated with the catwalk only by a few drops of silk curtain, the so-called backstage is crowded by models fitting in dresses or doing make-up, coordinators running back and forth with paper in hand pen in mouth, or even well-equipped journalists popping their eyes out hunting for interviewees. Barely has anybody notice us coming in because they are TOO busy.

My first job is to distribute the brand-introduction pages to the guests. Since Wendy is the only designer and producer of the brand Banshee, I’m privileged to appreciate her designs way before the show. All the pieces, ranging from lady-like outwear to bride dresses, are meticulously made and of stunning beauty. As can be seen from the petal and leaves-shape embroidery, the crystal embellishment of a see-through red-carpet dress and Wendy’s original rainbow floral print, most of her designs are involved with a sense of fairytale, intricate and fanciful.

By the time I went back to the backstage, the 60-minute count-down had already started. Wendy was sewing anxiously on a fur coat. “Do you sew?” she asked me as I squeezed in her crowd. But before I could say “no” she was already surrounded by a group of half-dressed model waiting for adjustments. I can barely even see her. Staring at the incomplete work of sewing, I sighed and awkwardly took up the needle with almost all my fingers, then started to penetrate the thick fur.

“Ouch!” the needle pinched me right on the thumb as I tried to pop it out. I let go of the fur coat because of the pain and in the same breath it slipped off my table. By the time I picked it up, the needle had already gone. “Oh no, don’t do that to me!”I looked desperately for the almost invisible needle on the ground. It was only 20 minutes before the show began, and the sewing is not even half done. Sweat began running down along my chin and neck, and I am still crawling under the table.

“Oh, the needle basket!” I yelled in joy. Don’t panic, just take out another needle, tie the string and start over, I said to myself. There is no time to think about pain although I continued to get pinched, nor the sweat that nearly blurred my glasses. In and out, the needle traveled slowly but calm within my control. And then there comes the last step…


Flashlights, applause, cheers, I finally found myself at the front row of Wendy’s show, and those gorgeous pieces flooded out onto the catwalk and captured all the attention. I stood up and applauded with all my strength, immersing myself in happiness. That is, after the precious baptism of fire in fashion.

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