A Gen Z Stylist Takes Us Behind The Runway At BENCH Fashion Week 2024

A Gen Z Stylist Takes Us Behind The Runway At BENCH Fashion Week 2024

Do you have what it takes?

Stylist Kurt Abonal talks about the backstage experience at Bench Fashion Week 2024, and it’s just as hectic as you think.

Related: These Celebrities Fired Up The Runway At Bench Fashion Week SS24

Ah, the runway. We’ve seen it on TV, we’ve seen it on screens, we’ve seen it in magazines and posters and movies—and maybe even in real life. Fashion as we know it to be is incomplete without its runways, whether it’s located on the Great Wall of China or right on a sandy beach, in a palace in Paris or in a multi-level in BGC.

People clamor to get front-row seats at fashion shows, wanting to witness the hottest designs or designers make their debut, models adorned in the latest fashions—whether ready-to-wear or avant-garde. But behind the glamour and the artistry that happens right on the catwalk, is an experience not afforded to the general public. Lucky for you, we’ve got the deets, all thanks to a young Pinoy stylist.


Kurt Abonal was backstage at the Urban Revivo show at the recently-concluded Bench Fashion Week SS24, admittedly too busy to document his work, but he was nothing new to the hustle and bustle of the runway.

A stylist at Team Ryuji Shiomitsu, Kurt was tasked to help style the fashion show for Urban Revivo Philippines, the international clothing brand’s local division. Along with fellow stylist Shaira Abraham, he put together the final looks that hit the runway at Bench Fashion Week. “The brand provided us with its new collection and we styled it according to what we do best,” he said. “To make the pieces look elevated and expensive and create a memorable experience for attendees.”

bench fashion week ss24


Urban Revivo’s Spring/Summer 2024 collection was a mix of eclectic Western styles and the trendiest of contemporary casual-cool.

Days before the show, which in this case was on the last day of Bench Fashion Week, the team had already pre-styled the looks and created a slide deck per model detailing the outfit, along with the accessories and shoes to be used. As the prep for the show began, Kurt and his fellow stylists tasked their interns to help dress the models in these pre-styled looks as well.

bench fashion week ss24

“It was much easier to work with our system since we were prepared and had a backup [plan] for every possible scenario that might occur in terms of styling,” he said. He expressed gratitude for their “well-rounded” interns Sam, Juancho, and Nyoki because they managed to handle the clothing and the models with expertise.


bench fashion week ss24

The energy backstage is what you expect—the nerves aren’t just experienced by the models á la Asia’s Next Top Model. It’s hectic and fast-paced, but that’s just how it is. A buzzing energy emanates from any type of show, existing regardless of how confident a team is. And the tension could be even more stirred simply by a missing earring or an unbuckled shoe.

“Honestly, it’s like a whirlwind of excitement, anticipation and adrenaline,” Kurt shares. “There will always be a sense of urgency. Since we’re making last-minute adjustments to the looks, there’s a buzz of enthusiasm as everyone prepares for the moment the designs hit the runway.”

And it’s not like once a model steps out onto that platform, they could breathe a sigh of relief immediately. There is no letting go of the tension in one’s shoulders until the last piece of clothing is back on the rack or in its respective garment bag. Stylists have to keep the pace of the show, styling and moving models into their next outfits, making sure everything is where it should be, and already anticipating the next move.


bench fashion week ss24

It’s well-known fact that the fashion industry requires not just creativity, but also grit—something the young stylist has in spades, no matter how stressed out he gets. It takes a lot to get your start in fashion, much less make it. Styling behind the runway is just a sliver of what industry professionals experience.

“I believe that resilience is key,” Kurt remarked. “Since the fashion industry can be competitive and cutthroat, as well as demanding.” Dealing with creative, headstrong people from all corners of the industry is a challenge not everybody is equipped—or would like to be equipped—for.

bench fashion week ss24

One things for sure—it’s never stagnant. As new trends, fashions, styles, and designers come into play, you can be sure that no two days are ever the same. The industry necessitates the involvement of people that can manage the changes without missing a step. Kurt elaborates, “[You need] to have an ability to handle rejection and long hours, and constantly adapt to trends and changes.”

Besides that, throughout the long days and long nights, the swear-worthy moments and the overabundance of garments and accessories, you’ll need the important things that’ll get you through any career or life trajectory you want to pursue. “Passion and perseverance should always be there in the face of any challenges that may come.”

Images courtesy of photographer Aniken Dela Cruz for Bench Fashion Week S/S24.

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