The Real Project Runway

Fashion show director Lynne Hanzawa O’Neill takes us through another day at her office—the catwalks of New York Fashion Week.

When she was a kid, summer for Lynne Hanzawa O’Neill meant: Hawai‘i. She spent her summers here, visiting family, working at the Dole Pineapple Cannery and at King’s Bakery. Now, it’s the fall and winter seasons that dominates her life, as she’s one of the premier fashion show producers during New York Fashion Week. (She was forever immortalized by Margaret Cho as fashion show producer ‘Lynne Cameron’ in a classic “Sex and the City” episode.) Photographer Tommy Shih followed O’Neill last fall, during three (of 11!) shows: Son Jung Wan, Hervé Léger and Vivienne Tam. “My favorite thing is calling the show and experiencing the beauty and theatre of it at the same time,” she says. Her least favorite thing? “Having back-to-back scheduled shows and bouncing back and forth between rehearsals and shows.” Shih had the tough task of keeping up with her. “…I did my best to follow her as she zipped between the two shows; it felt like trying to catch a hummingbird with my bare hands,” he says of O’Neill’s energy and multi-tasking. However, even when she’s “hooking into the energy and intensity of New York City,” as she puts it, there’s always a piece of Hawai‘i with her. “Always remember the aloha spirit,” she says.


Picture 2 of 9

O'Neill in the control booth, rehearsing the Son Jung Wan show at The Pavilion.

Come out strong, not fast. Walk in the center of the runway. Don’t cut the corners. Keep your chin up and shoulders back. Walk at the same pace as the model in front of you. Walk through the music, not to the music … this is not dance, this is fashion. Don’t touch another model. Let’s see something is behind your eyes. Relax your face.

—Top advice for models from O’Neill, a.k.a. “The Model Whisperer”


Picture 1 of 4

O’Neill describes the length of a typical day during New York Fashion Week as lasting “all my waking hours,” which is more than 18 hours a day. There are light moments, posing with models, after the Vivienne Tam show rehearsals and taking a selfie with backstage at the Son Jung Wan show with fashion stylist Deborah Watson; but as photographer Tommy Shih puts it, “She is the ultimate multitasker,” checking off every single detail. Here, Vivienne Tam gives an interview ahead of her show and final touch-ups on hair designs by Laurent Dufourge for Privé at the Son Jung Wan show.

Theme developed by TouchSize - Premium WordPress Themes and Websites