Backstage Pass

FDM’s fashion show production class will be co-taught by a New York icon

  • 6 January 2021
  • Author: Mark Berthold
  • Number of views: 2157
Backstage Pass

by Amanda Stevens

This year marks the 55th annual Fashion Show, and the occasion will feature an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at the making of a fashion show, leading up to the formal presentation in May.

Amid the pandemic, the fashion show production class is being challenged to pivot and reinvent the show in a way that is relevant, meaningful, and safe. This means planning and implementing a 100% virtual show. Fortunately for Fashion Design and Merchandising students, an icon of the New York City fashion scene will lead the class.

Lynne O’Neill, among the best and most notable fashion show producer/directors will co-teach FDM 430 this Spring 2021 semester. New York City-based, Honolulu-born O’Neill not only produces and directs fashion shows, she’s also an event producer. Her 40-year career includes producing shows for New York Fashion Week, magazines and retailers; launch events with the Rolling Stones and Usher for Best Buy; fashion show consulting for CW’s “Gossip Girl,” Bravo’s “The Fashion Show” and “Sex and the City: The Movie.”  Lynne was the inspiration for the Margaret Cho character in HBO’s “Sex and the City” episode, “The Real Me,” as well as the fashion show consultant – and so much more.

O’Neill launched and was the Executive Producer of HONOLULU Fashion Week 2014, 2015, 2016 presented by Hawaiian Airlines and produced by HONOLULU Magazine at the Hawaii Convention Center. She continues her career heading her New York-based fashion show and event company. [lynneoneill.com /IG @lynneohula]

With O’Neill’s strong international connections, it is only fitting that she has worked with the best in the industry – and some of the most esteemed in the industry are from Hawai’i. Her colleagues who will serve as guest speakers for our FDM 430 class include: 

  • Roman Young: (model agency director) A graduate of ‘Iolani School, Roman Young left his home in Hawai‘i to pursue a career in the fashion industry, winning a position as junior agent under the founder and director of Elite Model Management, John Casablancas. Young went on to become director and president of top modeling agency, Wilhelmina Models and a judge for international editions of America Next Top Model. He now has his own successful international modeling and talent agency NOMAD MGMT. [nomadmgmt.com /IG @romanyoung]


  • Keke Lindgard (international model). Born in Ka’a’awa and discovered by Roman Young at age 15, Keke debuted at Rag & Bone that year. She has walked the runway in Victoria Secret, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Ralph Lauren fashion shows; and appeared in editorials for French Elle, Australian Vogue, Numero France, Marie Claire Italia, and Allure. [IG @kekelindgard]


  • Don Sumada (stylist). Born in Hilo, Don attended UH Mānoa before earning his degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology. Sumada’s recent work includes spreads in Four Seasons Magazine and SOMA After working at publications including Harper’s Bazaar, Teen Vogue, Esquire and L’Uomo Vogue, Sumada is now a freelance stylist for magazine editorials and fashion shows, including New York Fashion Week, Milan Fashion Week and HONOLULU Fashion Week. [donsumada.com]

The UHM Fashion Show, which has run annually since 1966, gives student designers an opportunity to spotlight their creations before colleagues, alumni, family members, and industry representatives. It provides hands-on training in many important aspects of fashion promotion and merchandising. While guided by class instructors/mentors and guest speakers, FDM students are responsible for all aspects of the show, from publicity to staging, from collecting and disbursing revenues to model selection and styling.

I am co-teaching the class. Mentored by O’Neill, I am a UH alumnus, fashion journalist, editorial stylist, and entertainment blogger. I’ve produced and directed high-profile fashion shows for more than 10 years and assisted O’Neill backstage during all three years of HONOLULU Fashion Week. A career highlight was working backstage for O’Neill at a Vivienne Tam show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York.

Know someone who wants to take the class? Please contact me at amanda85@hawaii.edu.

Photo courtesy of Eli Schmidt.

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