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Behind the runway at New York Fashion Week: Meet Jennifer Maiorana

Design, PeopleTighe Flatley, Gap Inc. bloggerComment

For every model or designer gliding down a New York Fashion Week runway, there's an entire team of invisible talent hustling to guarantee the look strikes a chord with editors, influencers, the fashion elite — and those doing the shopping.

As Gap Inc. heads into New York Fashion Week, some of its most talented people are on the ground and working feverishly behind the scenes at the city's biggest fashion moment. This week, we're highlighting a few people who bring life to the product, and whose fingerprints will mold the styles and trends you'll covet in seasons to come.

Name: Jennifer Maiorana

Job Title: Assistant to Marissa Webb, EVP Design & Creative Director, Banana Republic

What That Job Means for Fashion Week: Jennifer moves through Fashion Week side-by-side with Marissa and her team, ensuring each and every project is tied up neatly. She's also the woman prepping the team for questions or the unexpected, and buttoning up last-minute details.

There is so much going on leading up to the Fashion Week presentation, and so many details to track. Which is the most important for you?

"The most important thing for me is supporting Marissa. I keep my eyes and hands on her and her work, at all times. Whatever I can do to make her life easier is my focus.

I'm lucky to have worked with Marissa long enough where, if I see her styling a model's hair, and I know she's not feeling it, I need to find the person for hair before she even asks for it.

Marissa and the team are so focused on the details and the product and the models, and getting everything ready for the reveal, that my role is to keep things moving. I have my phones. I have her phones. I have water for the team being interviewed for hours. It's making sure everyone is comfortable and can perform their best."

Some of the Fashion Week preparation sounds like it can get chaotic. How are you helping to keep things running smoothly?

"Marissa and the team are in fittings all day, and all night, and sometimes they don't have their phones nearby. It's all happening right up to the last minute. I've become a liaison of sorts. There are still emails and approvals and projects that have to move through. That's where I can help.

A lot of it is also figuring out when to slip in and slip out to get work done. Earlier, I was with Marissa and we were looking at photos, talking about looks on a model — but I knew I had a chance to slide a card across the table and ask her to write a quick thank you note. A lot of learning comes with time working together."

It's 20 minutes before the models head out for the presentation. What are you doing? What are you feeling?

"I'm with Marissa, who is going through each model one by one. I'm showing her print-outs of every look and how she had originally styled it, to make sure everything matches the plan. She and the team have worked so hard leading up to this moment, and we want to make sure every look is perfect. There are hundreds of people waiting. There are cameras everywhere. There's loud music. And we have 10 minutes to put together what we've worked on for a month.

There has to be a sense of urgency with everything. It sounds silly to say that about hair, but the truth is that everything that's happening back there is really important. Each detail is purposeful. And once it's all finished, and Marissa tweaks the last bow and turns around, there's the first reporter. You want the brand to look the best it can, but in that last few moments, I'm also working with the PR team to help Marissa be ready for the first reporter to ask a question."

What's the one thing you want people to know about your work during Fashion Week?

"I'm very behind-the-scenes. I don't want anyone to know what I'm doing. [Laughs]

Truthfully, so much work goes into these shows. The team is working on this moment all day, all night. After months of preparation, and being with Marissa the whole time, I know that I can be there to support her and the team and make them as successful as she can be.

It's not about following Marissa and the team with four phones and a bottle of water. I'm there to support her, so that she is as successful as she can be. 

The whole team is working to make sure the presentation comes together and looks beautiful. I'm there to guarantee the team is successful. When the team is successful, Banana Repbulic is successful."

Read part one of this series, featuring Banana Republic stylist Micah Johnson.