Sudbury hairstylist thrilled to work backstage at New York Fashion week

Sudbury's Jerica Wentzell spent four days backstage as a hairstylist for New York Fashion Week models.

Fast pace, high stress, and she'd do it again in a heartbeat, says hairstylist Jerica Wentzell

Sudbury hairstylist, Jerica Wentzell, was thrilled to work backstage at New York Fashion Week. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

Anyone who's watched "Project Runway" on TV knows that New York Fashion Week is a big deal for the fashion industry. It's an important platform for established and emerging designers to show off their collections to buyers and the media. 

Jerica Wentzell said she's thrilled to have just spent four days working backstage at New York Fashion Week. The Sudbury hairstylist owns Gingersnap Salon. 

It started with an offer from the Wella Studio in Toronto to take a course this past June called "Backstage Pass". There, artists Aubrey Loots and Jamie Pierce taught her what it would be like to work backstage.  

"They would have us working in very close quarters with the music very loud, also shouting, 'Five minutes! We have five minutes left!' to prepare us for the level of stress we would experience backstage," said Wentzell. 

"Once we arrived at fashion week, they would walk us through the look they expected of us and basically just get those models done as quickly as possible, often while a makeup artist is working on their face at the same time," explained Wentzell. She styled both male and female models. 

Jerica Wentzell displays her talent as a hairstylist backstage at New York Fashion Week. (Photo supplied by Jerica Wentzell)

"The first show, we styled for about an hour and a half and got about seven models finished," said Wentzell. After a rehearsal, she was told they had 20 minutes to style seven more models.

"The pressure was truly on after that. You just keep moving as quickly as possible," she said. 

For Wentzell's first show, the models were supposed to look like statues. 

"We had to paint their hair to their head layer by layer with gel and then they had their faces airbrushed either white or gold, and then the airbrushing went over top of the helmet of hair we created," she said. 

She describes the backstage atmosphere as very hectic. "Tensions get high. There is yelling, but there's also a lot of teamwork. Oftentimes there's two or three hairstylists working on a model at once," she explained.

Wentzell says working backstage at New York Fashion Week was a chance to push herself out of her comfort zone. "I've been a reader of Vogue since childhood. So, to kind of experience what it's like behind the scenes of all these photos I've been looking at is just truly surreal to be honest."

Wentzell was joined by stylists from Italy, Lithuania, and all over the United States. "It was really incredible to create a new sense of community with stylists from around the world."

"I do a lot of photo shoot work on the side as well so I feel I've learned some techniques I can apply to that," added Wentzell.

Would she go back? "Absolutely. In a heartbeat"

Sudbury hairstylist Jerica Wentzell just got back from New York where she worked behind the scenes for New York Fashion Week. She joined us in studio to talk about the experience. 6:15

With files from Jessica Pope


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