First of all, I want to say that while this was my first time attending Anime Expo, its not my first time to large conventions. I've been to "crowded" conventions such as Blizzcon, Twitchcon, and E3 and I must say I probably won't complain about any of them any more after this experience. So, you want to be a model for Anime Expo's fashion show? Let me give you some advice, as well as some warnings from my experience and other models who have modeled for the fashion show in the past. In a nutshell (for the TL;DR version) 1) You will not get paid, nor have parking reimbursed (will run you around $50 for 2 days), nor clothes from the brand.
2) Make sure you keep all 3 potential days clear (for fittings and the show itself).
3) Be prepared to come really early, even for fittings, bring sunblock, don't expect to have a special entrance or lines for you, you will be standing in line with all the normal non-event working people.
4) If you have any questions, don't expect the event coordinator or volunteers to ever respond back to any emails, let alone give you a number to call or text for emergencies. You're on your own. 5) Bring your own makeup for the day of the show, just in case (but the chances are pretty high that you will have to do your own hair and makeup, due to the fact that the show is poorly organized and timed). 6) Have some stage/runway experience already, as rehearsals are really rushed. You need to have the confidence to be able to improve poses. The day of the show is a battle between somehow getting everyone's hair and makeup done, and rehearsal. 7) Don't expect to even get photos or videos of the event from the designers, or AX. You will have to go hunting social media or take photos back stage before you go on. Luckily it seems like AX is livestreaming their events now, so if you are tech savvy you can steal your portion of the fashion show from Twitch or Youtube.
I applied to the AX Fashion Show last year and didn't get in, if I remember correctly the casting call was put out maybe 2-3 months before the actual day. This year the casting call went out 2-3 weeks before, which seems like a really short time to coordinate. You are required to make a commitment to a fitting/rehearsal and of course, the day of the show. You are not payed nor is parking reimbursed, but you get a 4-day AX pass. I'm not a big anime person but the reason I decided to do this despite no pay was I wanted to add more big conventions and brands to my portfolio/resume. I also figured the brands featured might be a bit more fun than your standard regular fashion. So how I knew (or assumed) that I was accepted was that I got a random docusign document send to my email that seemed to be from AX. I didn't get any email stating, "Congrats, you were picked!" until 3 days later, confusingly enough. The email said I would be modeling for Hypeland, and possibly a second brand, and more details on rehearsal times etc pending. Ok, cool! Then I got another email on the 27th (a mere week before scheduled fittings) giving me modeling info for h.NAOTO, despite the fact that I was modeling for Hypeland. I previously heard nothing about modeling for h.NAOTO so I was confused if this was the 2nd brand, if I got a wrong email, or things got changed around? At least this email had the fitting time and fashion show meeting times, as I was starting to get worried. I asked about modeling for Hypeland, and got no response (this would become a regular habit of the event coordinator). Third email came July 2nd, mentioning how to pick up our complimentary 4 day badge, where fittings would be held, and more day of show info. The email did mention the fact that Hypeland ended up choosing their models (the coordinator chose to add this onto the group email instead of responding directly to my email). As someone who has worked for conventions before, I had some concerns about the ease of getting my badge and being able to get in. I assumed I would get a industry or priority badge that would get me past the lines, boy was I wrong. Parking was surprisingly easy, but I started to dread things as I made my way from the parking lot to registration. The lines were ridiculously long. But hey not to worry, according to the email I just go to "professional registration" then to the "priority entrance". I already had my registration code sent to my email so there was no need to be at registration. I saw the line just to get badges and it was insanely long. I asked multiple volunteers and security where the priority or professional line was to get my badge, and they kept sending me back and forth to each other, no one seemed to know anything nor was helpful so I just stood in the regular line. The regular line seemed to later split off into industry/artist alley badge collection tellers but I guess because there were so many people they were just taking everyone at every teller.
After being stressed out from that now I had to find a way to get IN. I could not get in to priority lines because A) I could not find them B) I only had a regular 4 day badge, not industry or anything special C) A lot of the lines were just merging so it didn't matter if you were industry, professional, or whatever. I was freaking out thinking for sure I would not make it to the fittings in time, considering how far down the line I was. It went all the way under Venice Blvd and the 110 freeway, and it wasn't really a straight shot either, a lot of parts snaked. During this whole time, I kept trying to email the event coordinator to update her on what was going on (she left no form of phone number) but I never ever got one response from her. None! Not even after the fittings were done, nor the next day. Maybe we were not important enough to respond to, I don't know. After spending 5 hours in lines, I finally BARLEY made it in by 3:30pm, the start time to the fittings. The inside was surprisingly emptier compared to the outside, and I navigated my way around to where I was supposed to go. Fittings were very relaxed. Just gave my name to one of the volunteer show managers, then the h.NAOTO designers gave me an outfit to try on, and then I was kicked out by the volunteers to "avoid loitering in the room". I explored some of AX since I spent all that time trying to get in, didn't see anything terribly interesting, and went home. I was stressed out, worried about how I would get in the next day, and if it would be a repeat of Day 1, but one of the other models who worked the show last year told me of a better entrance in the west hall parking garage to try. Also in talking to the other models/makeup artists that worked the show last year, they said it was horrible in terms of timing. They said a lot of them ended up having to do their own hair and makeup, so to bring my own stuff just in case. I also found out the hair and makeup artists aren't paid either, which I thought odd considering they have kits. One of the makeup artists from last year (now a model this year) said they suckered her into it by telling her she could do makeup for a well known Japanese celebrity, but then the day of, found out he had his own makeup team and they wanted nothing to do with her. They also threw another brand for her to do last minute. She was in near tears. At 12:08am show day I get an email from a volunteer show manager (not even the event coordinator) telling us we had to show up for hair and makeup between 6:30am and 7am OR ELSE we would not be let in if past 7am. She also gave better information on how to get in, and that we would be on a list for the priority entrance. I wasn't fully convinced so I left a little early just in case. To my surprise, I parked easily, found the proper entrance, said I was a fashion model on the "list" and *gasp* there actually was a list! And I was on it! No problem there, headed straight to the room. When I got there (it was about 6:20am) there were maybe 2-3 other models waiting, and absolutely no one was in the rooms (they were still locked). The volunteer manager and MUAs (make up artists) didn't even show up until 7am, which was a little annoying because we took the extra effort to be on time so that HMUA (hair and make up) could get started. Most of the time we sat around waiting to be all prettied up, but there were some issues. Someone decided that during the HMUA time, rehearsals should also be done at 9am. I should also mention the show is supposed to start at 12:30. This is just poor planning and coordination. Why were rehearsals not done on Wed, after the fittings? There was so much extra down time that could have been used. The designer for h.NAOTO came in during makeup and was confused as to why none of us had our makeup done yet. I guess there was some MORE miscommunication, we were supposed to rehearse first since we would appear last in the show, and then come back in time to have our makeup and hair done. We got shuffled confusedly off into a freight elevator to go to rehearsals, which meant we sat around wasting our time watching another brand do their reversals while the posing coach took WAY too much time with each individual girl. A lot of us were getting pissed off because it was already 10:30am at this point, rehearsals were late, and the majority of us still need hair and makeup done. Finally one of the models complained to the event coordinator, whom spend another 30 minutes on the phone trying to figure out what was going on (shouldn't you know?!?). One of the volunteer show managers was so close to tears I felt bad, she was so stressed out. During our super rushed rehearsal (which honestly I was fine with, having stage experience before I honestly just wanted HMUA to be done with rather than an extensive rehearsal, hell I was just ready to make shit up on the runway). they moved all the HMUAS downstairs behind the stage to speed up the process hopefully. There were still so many of us who still had bare faces. Luckily they told us to arrive with some foundation, and I was glad I brought my makeup just in case. In the end, I didn't get HMUA done until about 20 mins before showtime, and it was half assed (not the hair or makeup artists fault, they weren't told what designs they were doing ahead of time and were also on a time crunch). They were looks I could have done myself honestly, and I suck at makeup. I didn't even get false lashes. Whatever. My design up just being slicked back wet hair, black lips, sharp cheek contour and blush, and some black eyes (the MUA didn't have black so she used a dark purple lip). The style was dramatic enough to not look like crap on stage, even without falsies.
The fashion show itself started 30 minutes late, and during the show itself the lights on the T part of the runway were pretty dark. They sortof fixed them after the first brand, but it did not look as lit up as it should have. Audiences live on Twitch and Youtube took notice of this as well. The mics also werent working for the MC in the beginning, and during the whole show you could hear someones mic backstage or off stage occationally.
After talking to the models, they said this shitshow prep was pretty much a repeat of last year, which confuses me. This is Anime Expo, North America's largest anime expo. They get a ton of money from hundreds of thousands of attendees that come in, and they can't even afford to hire a capable event coordinator, models, makeup artists, stage crew? I feel most bad for the designers. They relied on the fashion show coordinator to have models for them, ready to go on time with hair and makeup, and instead they weren't able to fully get their visions out there due to the rush and sloppiness that occured. Hirooka Naoto of h.NAOTO and the assistants/designers that came with him were very nice, they were supposed to be the main brand of the show so I felt even more sorry that they had to get such a half assed experience. Way to represent the US, Anime Expo.
I did meet some new model friends though. Sometimes its a hit or miss, I have met a lot of diva models that are just so full of themselves because they are "influencers" or whatever, but most of the women (and men) there were cool and I had several that I really enjoyed talking to (Insta friends!). If it were not for them, I would have gone totally insane. Will I do this show again next year? Probably not. The brands would REALLY have to be worth the stress.
Anime Expo, you were a total let down in terms of crowd control and event coordination. I think what might work for them is doing what Blizzcon and San Diego Comic Con does, having a few days where you have to be in a cue to be randomly selected for tickets, instead of, "LET EVERYBODY AND ANYBODY BUY TICKETS, LOL". Thanks but no thanks!