Runway Show Planning

clothing ready for show on rack

See 4-H State Fair Handbook for all 4-H Clothing Event Forms and Information for County Staff, Participants, & Judges

In the fashion industry, the runway show is the means designers use to introduce new fashion collections. A well planned fashion show incorporates design, music, elements of dance or movement, oral commentary, and lighting to present new fashion concepts.  As a form of visual merchandising, the fashion show is a major marketing method used at all levels in the fashion industry. Retailers often team up with mall management to present fashion shows to market new merchandise. Sometimes malls and retailers will co-sponsor 4-H shows.

4-H Fashion presentations tell about you and your projects. 4-H’ers have an opportunity to develop communication skills through writing and delivering fashion commentary during 4-H fashion presentations. At the State Fair Clothing Event, senior 4-H’ers introduce Clothing Event participants as they appear on stage through a “Fashion Narrative” or oral commentary. Through the experience of writing and delivering fashion commentary, experienced 4-H’ers develop leadership skills and self-confidence. 4-H’ers can have this experience in their home counties also by assisting with planning and presenting County Events. Planning the show can be a lot of fun and is a good way to learn to work with other 4-H’ers.

Writing Fashion Narratives

You don’t have to be a great writer to write Fashion Narratives, but each Fashion Narrative card should:

1. Identify the 4-H’er by name, club, community, and/or county,
2. Contain a little information about the outfit, and
3. Provide some information about the 4-H’er’s achievements, activities, or career goals.

Group Activity

1. Practice reading each of the example narratives aloud filling in the blanks with the names of 4-H’ers in your county. Then, time each other with a stop watch or using a second hand on a clock or watch as you read each one. Use an easy-listening, slow pace to read; do not rush.

2. Practice walking forward the length of a stage, turning around, smiling at the audience, and walking back off the stage. (You don’t need to have a stage, you can mark off the area of any room and “make believe.”) See how far you can walk with each of the narratives.

3. Decide how long you want your show to be. If you have more people, you may want shorter narratives. If you have fewer people, each one may take longer on the stage.

Help for writing Stage Commentaries 
This link has a large glossary of descriptive words for modeled outfits.

Importance of the Fashion Show

Constructed sewing projects

Use this Color Wheel Tool to help you experiment with different types of colors!  The cutouts fit right over a regular color wheel. (4H 0633)

Clothing Project Home


  • Write the narratives to fit the amount of time you have for the show.
  • Audiences like shows that are not too long.
  • Don’t write a lot of detail about trim, small prints, or parts of a garment that cannot be seen from a distance. The audience will not be able to appreciate these details.
  • Use actions words in your writing as much as you can to give the show ”life”. (See 6F3 Clothing Event Commentary Help.)
  • Practice reading difficult names or fashion terms aloud, so you can pronounce them with confidence (e.g.. madras or indigo).
  • Taped background music played during the show will help models relax and walk with greater confidence. If music is too loud, the audience will not be able to hear the narrator. Check the sound system at rehearsal before your show starts.
  • Arrange seating so that the audience can see as well as possible. For a room without stage or risers, plan to have the models walk down a center aisle. This will let more people get a better view.
  • Walking in front of an audience can make you nervous, but practice will help you develop skill and confidence.
  • If a video camera is available, tape each other as you practice modeling. Then, play back the tape to see how you can improve. Do not tease or make fun of anyone.
  • Often a show is more interesting if two or more people are on stage at the same time. Perhaps your leader or a 4-H’er who attended State Fair last year can explain how to do this effectively.
  • A well-planned Fashion Presentation can help people in your community learn about 4-H, its purposes, and learning programs for young people.
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