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Behind the scenes at Fashion Week

Some fashion-lovers dream of getting a front-row seat at their favorite designer's show during Fashion Week in New York. One young local woman landed herself backstage at three of them.

And she had a job to do.

Samantha Stack, an 18-year-old cosmetology student at the Salon Professional Academy in the Town of Tonawanda, wrote a winning essay in a contest sponsored by Redken.

She convinced them that, yes, working behind the scenes at New York Fashion Week -- with all its frenziness -- was for her.

"That is my dream job," she said Thursday morning, the day after her return.

"All that hype and excitement is where I want to be," said Samantha, who graduated from Lewiston Porter High School.

She and another winning student from Dallas worked alongside professional stylists at three shows: Chris Benz, Badgley Mischka and Betsey Johnson.

And each show was very different.

Chris Benz, who unveiled his spring 2010 collection Monday near Chelsea Piers, wanted a beachy look -- you know, waves in the hair and all.

"It was a natural, just-rolled-out-of-bed kind of look -- but not too messy," Samantha said.

At the Badgley Mischka show Tuesday morning at the Bryant Park Tent, the look was a lot more sophisticated -- and very, very precise, she said.

It would take forever for her to describe the technique -- especially to those of us who can barely wield a blow-dryer -- but in its most condensed form, let's just say the sleek, slightly alien look began with a ponytail.

It involved some sewing (!) and ended with a knot sort of thing with a pointy triangle at the top.

"It was very edgy," Samantha said.

The idea of the point was to replicate the models' Audrey Hepburn-style makeup, with eyeliner that, too, goes up into a point, she explained.

From there, it was off to the Betsey Johnson fashion show at the Plaza hotel near Central Park South. I have been to many Betsey Johnson fashion shows, and they are a hoot.

The clothes are a riot. The models seem to be having a blast. And Betsey, herself, typically ends the show by turning a cartwheel in front of everyone.

"The hair was, basically, completely wild," Samantha said.

With a live band playing, the models -- dressed in flirty clothing -- danced and sang and basically whooped it up.

"None of the models looked the same. The hair was very, very teased and gigantic and she gave us hairpieces to use in different ways. The bigger the hair, the better," Samantha said.

"The makeup was very dark. It was all really, really cool," she said.

So was the designer, who dressed and got her hair done just like the models.

"She was running around and had so much energy. She was not at all stressed but very, very excited. There were flowers and candy everywhere, and she drew posters and hung them up for everybody.

"It was like one big party. It was really, really fun," Samantha said.

Now that Fashion Week is over and she has returned home, Samantha admits she is a little tired after all the excitement.

No, make that exhausted.


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