Syracuse Fashion Week

Behind the Scenes with Hair and Makeup

Photography by Daniel Ware

Mark your calendars for this year’s Syracuse Fashion Week, slated for Thursday, April 26, through Sunday, April 29. Celebrate local style and fashion, all while supporting The Food Bank of CNY.

We went behind the scenes with hair and makeup coordinator Shannon Fleming and members of her team to see how the magic happens.

Hair Team

Shannon Fleming, hair & makeup coordinator
Marisa’s Fortress of Beauty

SWM: Talk about the experience of getting involved with SFW.
Shannon: I’ve been the hair and makeup coordinator for SFW since we started five years ago. I felt the crew behind the scenes deserved more recognition, so, one of my roles has been to make sure Syracuse knows how much goes into getting the models ready for the runway.

SWM: How do you balance SFW with your normal day-to-day?
Shannon: Balancing SFW and my normal day life isn’t always easy, but it’s absolutely worth it. Not only do we donate our proceeds to The Food Bank of CNY, but it’s an outlet to let my creative mind run wild.

SWM: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced with SFW?
Shannon: My biggest challenge has been trying to organize a crew of more than 30 girls for hair and makeup, while trying to coordinate with each designer for all four shows. I strive to make the designers’ visions come to life, but it’s sometimes difficult with shared models. Thankfully, I now have Julianna Pastella as my sidekick, so this year will run even more smoothly than the last.

SWM: What’s your favorite memory from SFW?
Shannon: I have many favorite memories, but I’d have to say it was hysterical when our musician lit sage at The Underground Show and the fire alarm went off. This is our risqué show, so we had women in lingerie and body-painted bartenders running out the door. The look on the firemen’s faces was priceless.

Michelle Rath
Industry Salon

SWM: Describe the craziest hair you’ve ever done for SFW.
Michelle: For me, it’s about creating something beautiful and eye-catching, almost like a piece of art. People see our artwork going down the runway.

SWM: We’d guess your typical workday doesn’t present the same time constraints as SFW. How do you deal with those time constraints during SFW?
Michelle: Actually, I’m used to a fast-paced, crazy environment. There’s not a day I’m not booked solid and doing more than one client at a time. So, my everyday life has trained me in multitasking and time management, must-haves for SFW.

SWM: What’s your favorite SFW memory?
Michelle: There have been so many, I can’t pick one. Every year is a new, fun and exciting experience. I’m just so thankful to be part of it, with so many talented artists.

Shanique Lee
The Glam Room

SWM: Do you have a favorite style of fashion to collaborate with for SFW?
Shanique: I love working with all of the different styles you see at SFW, my favorite being formal, bridal and evening wear collections.

SWM: What’s the craziest hairstyle you’ve ever done on a model for SFW?
Shanique: The craziest creations happen at Syracuse Snarl [in October], actually. Glitter, leaves, lights and beads. All of the creativity comes out when the runway is Halloween-themed!

SWM: What SFW event are you most looking forward to this year?
Shanique: It’s so hard to choose. I’m looking forward to all of the SFW events, especially Local Love at Hotel Syracuse!

Makeup Team

Julianna Pastella, hair & makeup coordinator
Pastel Makeup + Style

SWM: Describe the craziest makeup you’ve ever done for SFW.
Julianna: The Underground Show is hands-down the best makeup night. The makeup is always sultry, colorful, playful and incredibly creative, with body painting, bedazzled faces and glitter literally everywhere imaginable.

SWM: What’s your favorite memory from SFW?
Julianna: I will always remember the night I got home from the first night’s show my second year in. The feeling of being part of a community that is collaborating in such a tremendous way brought a rush of acceptance and appreciation.

SWM: What are you most excited about this year?
Julianna: I’m excited to see how we’ve grown! We’ve all been working really hard and I can’t wait to see how we elevated this upcoming spring.

Ashley Hansen
Ashley Hansen’s Beauty Nation

SWM: How long does it typically take to do makeup for one model?
Ashley: Due to the volume of people we need to get through, we try to keep the time per model down to 15 to 25 minutes each. Every designer and retailer has a different style in mind; sometimes we luck out and get to keep it natural for one group, leaving us more time for more time-demanding styles with a different designer. We make it work.

SWM: What’s the craziest memory you have from SFW?
Ashley: I was full-body airbrushing a nude model when the fire alarm went off and we had to evacuate. We tried to cover her as best we could — but, wow, that was a high-stress situation. Our time to finish was limited, but she looked beautiful. That’s a common theme of the SFW crew — throw us in a situation and, no matter the details, we will make it work.

SWM: What’s your favorite part of being involved with SFW?
Ashley: My personal favorite part is the camaraderie between stylists, designers, models, coordinators and photographers. We get to come together every year and flex our creative muscles together to create something truly magnificent.

Rachael Keresey
Marney and Co.

SWM: What SFW event is unmissable this year? Why?
Rachael: I’d say people shouldn’t miss The Underground Show, because it’s my personal favorite. But, honestly, if they attend any of them and support their local community, that would be awesome, too!

SWM: Do you have a favorite style of fashion to collaborate with for SFW?
Rachael: I love all the fashions that come down the runway. I just love art and get inspired by everything I see.

SWM: What’s your favorite aspect of SFW?
Rachael: Getting to work and collaborate with all the makeup artists and stylists — especially the crazy ideas we don’t get to create on a daily basis in the salon. This event gives us an opportunity to let loose and have fun, all while raising money for a great cause. SWM

Syracuse Fashion Week hair & makeup team: Alicia Allison, Marisa Antonacci, Marisa Buechner, Kristy Campolieto-Bigness, McKenzie Elizabeth, Sarah Finn, Shannon Fleming, Ashley Hansen, Heather Harrington, Caitlin Hilts, Brianna Horton, Rachael Keresey, Jennifer Krawiec, Donna Latino, Shanique Lee, Natalee McGowan, Skylar Rae Montgomery, Julianna Pastella, Marissa Perkins, Jamie Procopio, Michelle Rath, Rebecca Roberts, Amani Saleh, Jessica Seib, Jannah Shehaden, Jessica Sheppard, Marcela Tobar, Stacey Warner, Sarah Wilder, Lauren Wright, Martha Zemsta

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

For more information on Syracuse Fashion Week, visit