An insider’s guide to getting that front row upgrade

Murray Bevan

If there’s anyone who you need to know at New Zealand Fashion Week, it’s Murray Bevan.

Murray is the director of Showroom 22, one of NZ’s leading fashion PR agencies, and oft tasked with the seating arrangements for the key shows of the week.

We’ve all heard glorious tales of being upgraded to business class on a flight. But when it comes to fashion’s equivalent, how can you ensure when there’s space in the seat in Row A and B – just before the lights are dimmed and the models hit the runway – you are the one getting the call up?

Here’s Murray’s tips:

1. Dress up.  
Fashion is an art form, and in the right hands, it can transform a person.  What better time to display your inner peacock than at Fashion Week?  If I’ve got a spare seat to fill and I’m thinking about how good the runway shots will look with a full front row, I’ll be looking for the modest peacocks.

2. Ask nicely.  
Sometimes the old adage of ‘You don’t ask, you don’t get’ is true, and people will often catch my eye and ask for a better seat.  I always remember the polite ones.

3.  Be patient.  
In the biggest shows we have to manage the safe and orderly seating of between 500-1000 people.  Seeing as I am the one who tells the production team when to dim the lights and start the show, there won’t be a spare seat left un-filled until I’m done, and this can take a while.  So hang in there.

4. Be fashionably late (but not too late).  
The laws of physics coupled with human behaviour dictates that most people will turn up early, walk swiftly through the doors, get to their seat, and sit down as if to claim it as their rightful throne.  This means that we get to see quite soon where the gaps are.  There’s a delicate balance between being late enough to glide in and take an empty front row seat if I deem it fillable, and being so late that all the seats are full, including your allocated one.  Ride the lightning and turn up as close to start time as possible and you could be in luck.

5. Ask once, maybe twice, but don’t make a habit of it.  
Although most people at Fashion Week are freaking out on the inside, they generally exude a calm, polished, ‘I do this all the time’-type mood.  When translated into seat request language, this forced calm has the tendency to bubble over and explode in a torrent of overly-gushy, sometimes pushy upgrade demands that can come up time and time again at different shows.  There are always repeat offenders.  Try not to go overboard, and remember that although you may think you’re the most important person in the room, everyone else does, too.  If you’ve asked once, I’ll remember you, and chances are I’ll choose you again if the opportunity arises.