by Sandy Ramirez
Fashion shows at the level we see here in New York Fashion Week are an enormous undertaking. Besides the army of publicity people who promote the shows and get the right people in to view the designs, the actual design and manufacture of the textiles and clothing, and the efforts of groups like IMG Fashion, The Fashion Calendar, and the CFDA to make it all work together, there is the actual logistics of getting the spaces ready for each designer to present. Building the runway, repainting the backdrops, and setting up the lighting, that seemingly invisible process, is handled by The Ground Crew. The vast majority of physical production, without which none of the events would occur, is handle by them. I got to spend five minutes with Betty “B.P.” Cole, President of The Ground Crew just outside the tents as she was headed over to the Charlotte Ronson show to take care of a few last minute details in the production.
The Ground Crew started back in the 80’s, when Audrey Smaltz and Cole had a vision, that designers needed a one stop for the actual theatrical logistics needs of a fashion show. Starting out by producing various shows for local designers in the Bronx in industrial spaces and showrooms, word soon got around of this two woman team that could handle it all. Building up with early clients like Donna Karan, the business quickly became a success.
Today Cole supervises the production of over 50 shows, both in The Tents and beyond Bryant Park, including BET’s Rip the Runway.
When not producing shows, she relaxes by working on a documentary photography project on Spanish Harlem, where she grew up.