You’d be hard-pressed to find a more glamorous occasion than a fashion show in full swing. For a few hours, mere mortals become gods, gliding down the catwalk with style never-before-seen, as cameras dazzle and the spotlight burns a path before them like the sun through a magnifying glass. But for all the glory of the main event, there’s arguably even more action happening backstage, where Monica Schipper has made her name as one of the most in-demand photographers in New York City.
Alongside London, Paris and Milan, New York Fashion Week takes priority as a must-see event in the beauty industry, a worldwide fashion summit where trendsetters gather to feast their eyes on the year’s freshest styles. A contributor to Getty Images, the world’s largest photo agency, Schipper has been on hand for dozens of New York Fashion Week’s hottest shows.
With insider access to all the behind-the-scenes action, Schipper seized her first opportunities backstage with aplomb. Weaving her way through a whirlwind of wardrobe racks, makeup chairs and a herd of humans in constant motion, Schipper found her flow, capturing finished beauty portraits as the models came out of their hair and makeup treatments. She also demonstrated a knack for catching stunning first-look shots of the models just before they hit the runway.
Her outstanding work and unforgettable energy onset made her a go-to photographer for an array of NYFW clients, documenting all the must-see moments for shows featuring tennis legend Serena Williams, designer swimwear label Chromat, global fashion brand Rebecca Minkoff, contemporary clothing company Alice & Olivia, luxury fashion design house Kate Spade and many more.
Having spent years backstage, consistently delivering photos of the highest caliber, it was only a matter of time before NYFW official beauty sponsor and industry giant TRESemme brought Schipper on as their designated photographer.
When asked about her mindset to prepare for a big-name client like TRESemme, Schipper had this to say:
“No matter the client, you need to remember you’re part of a creative team and it is a collaborative effort. The best photographers contribute to the energy in the room and work with it in a meaningful way, and those are the photographers that continue to be hired.”
While the runway may get the lion’s share of hype, the elaborate design of the show itself offers little in the way of creativity for the artists behind the lens. Once a model steps onto the runway, they are walking to the creative vision of the show’s production team. Specific shots are required from the photography team to capture the totality of the look on display. Backstage, however, there’s a lot more room for experimentation and play. Here, artists like Schipper can find the freedom to satisfy their creative itch, bringing their own vision to the lighting, design and energy of the shots.
“Working backstage I can capture candid moments as they happen, and I thrive off of that spontaneity,” Schipper says, “especially when I can light and shoot it with my own creative spin.”
Although working with the biggest names in beauty is a thrill, it’s not just the name that inspires Schipper; it’s the message behind the brand that really allows her to connect with the energy of the show, and through that energy, something truly special can be captured and preserved.
Chromat, a future-forward swim and bodywear brand, focuses on empowering garments for all bodies. Demonstrating their uncompromising aesthetic, Chromat famously featured a plus-sized Latina model as their show opener, an emphatic statement that caught the attention of the entire fashion industry. Their brand is committed to bringing inclusivity to the forefront, and Schipper worked closely with the Chromat creative team to achieve this message through the vibe and energy of her shots.
“It was an honor to be a part of something meaningful and impactful, especially in the fashion industry where representation is so important,” the photographer states. “Chromat stands by what they believe in and they ensure that anyone watching their show will see someone walking who represents them.”
Of course, there’s a lot of fun to be had at these spectacular soirees as well. Schipper particularly relishes her collaborations with NYC-based fashion duo The Blonds. Their recent Disney Villains x The Blonds show had the industry and social media buzzing, with brand founder Phillipe Blond and celebrities such as style-icon Paris Hilton and YouTuber Patrick Starrr lighting up the runway.
Featuring iconic Disney antiheroes like the Queen of Hearts, Cruella de Vil, Ursula the Sea Witch and Maleficent, the Blonds put an awe-inspiring and eye-catching twist on the classic characters, an effort heralded by global fashion authority L’OFFICIEL as “the most drag-friendly ‘fits imaginable.”
“The Blonds is definitely one of my favorite brands to work with. Their shows are always such a spectacle, and Disney Villains x The Blonds was next level!” says Schipper. “The entire event is a work of art, from the fashion down to every single detail.”
On nights like these, these extravagant statements of style, where every detail is teeming with meaning, it’s paramount to have professionals on the scene to commemorate and communicate their message. So much happens before the models even hit the runway, it would be criminal for these special moments to go amiss. Luckily for us, photographers like Monica Schipper are there to capture it all, making sure we don’t miss a thing.