• Julie Gallahue

The art of adhesives

“Tape her in it” I hear a familiar voice shout across the 10x10’ square space designated as our home-base for the first half of Denver Fashion Week. We’re in the back of one of my favorite venues, the Forney Transportation Museum, among vintage cars, bikes and mannequins in various recreations of pumping gas or collecting tickets.

We’ve been here since the early hours of the morning, our second day of the show, running on only a few hours of sleep. The show before this one had us all climbing into our beds well past midnight and our alarms seem to have gone off before our heads even hit the pillow. We are tired to say the least, but it’s still early in the week and collectively the models, stylists, designers, and producers are still pumped full of adrenaline and ambition.

I’ve heard these words spoken before... I recall my teenage self in a similar situation, hearing someone say “tape her in it” just before my two small breasts were taped together to make an A cup appear to be a C cup and my flat chest suddenly shows some semblance of dips and curves. The vintage 1940’s style, white satin, drop-waist, long sleeve dress fit like a glove except for those tiny tits of mine, and something had to be done.

You may be thinking, “put on a push-up padded bra, honey, and your problem is solved!” Yes, that would have been a great solution, but 1, this was before the miracle brasier was introduced to the general public and 2, the back of the dress was completely open and nothing says “fashion show newbie” like having a thick flesh-colored elastic band and metal fasteners crossing your otherwise bare back. It’s distracting and kind of tacky, so models don’t do this on the runway.

In fact, the efforts models show to hide any evidence that they even have undergarments on is quite extensive. And during this particular decade of fashion (let’s call it the 80’s), nipples were not to be recognizable in any way, shape, or form. It’s almost as if women were supposed to be nipple-less, and this trend would persist until Jennifer Aniston made the headlights a thing to turn on with confidence and pride. Shout out to Friends and Jennifer Aniston for taking some pressure off us!

But, at this moment, at this show, I had some McGyver-ing to do with my chest before I hit the runway and a few kind make-up artists showed me how. I bent over at the waist, topless of course, while one woman used her teeth to tear off a long strip of silver duct tape (as this was the only option available to us after an extensive search). She attached one end to the delicate baby flesh under my left armpit, pulled it across my chest to secure both breasts, and attached again under my right armpit. Voila - it worked! All of a sudden there was cleavage and my girls were at least 4” higher on my chest then they were before. Multiple strips of tape were then layered across the breasts to cover up those pesky nipples while adding some extra volume. Before long, I had a silver chest plate that wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Fast forward three decades and now I’m on the other side of the tape roll. In front of me is a tall and gangly teenager, awkwardly using my shoulders for stability as she precariously balances, flamingo-style, on one heeled foot while myself and another assistant stuff wads of duct tape rings into the size 10 shoe in hopes of keeping it attached to her size 8 foot.

In a folding chair a few feet away, another teen model, Goldie Mae Productions very own Taiya Werling is wrapping a roll of black duct tape around the outside of her shoe-bound foot like a boxer wraps his gloves before a fight. Her alabaster skin, abruptly smooth, black and shiny, look a bit like she’s wearing prosthetic feet. No way these shoes are separating from her body. Not tonight, and possibly not even for a few days. The jaws of life may be required to get this kid out of them later.

For these reasons, and many more, I love adhesives. This season of Denver Fashion Week, DFW to the locals, saw every form of adhesive possible; Paper tape, double sided tape, fashion tape, gaffer tape, fabric glue, nail glue, lash glue, and even the occasional band aid. And don’t even get me started on the fasteners! My personal fastening favorite is the self-adhesive, Velcro patch. Stick and fasten in one spot! Utopia!

A runway model’s worst fears include walking in shoes that your heels slip out of. It’s really hard to recover from stepping out of your shoe in the middle of a runway. Nothing makes that 60 second walk seem like 6 hours more than dragging your leg down behind you to keep from losing a shoe. Graceful, it isn’t. How to make that look pretty is a mystery none of us have solved yet.

Add a hemline that’s slightly too long and S*&t just got real. Talk about a precarious situation..... And for the trifecta of modeling perils, let’s toss in a 3’ long train. These three things in one outfit can spell disaster. And for the model that manages to keep it all together, walking in a perfectly straight line, making every turn without tangling your ankles in the extra fabric or stepping on that train, your peers bow to you and hold you on a pedestal.



1. Use heel guards. Heel gaurds are a staple item in my kit and model bag. They are cheap and easy to find anywhere that shoes are sold, including big box retailers. You can even double them up to make the heel tighter.

2. Stuff toes with cotton balls to force the heel backward. Honestly, this is not my favorite solution, as the toe will compress the paper quickly and/or make your toes look like they have cleavage, which is definitely not sexy.

3. Insert rolls of heavy duty tape under foot and inside the heel of your shoe. Just like you secure a Christmas card to a door frame, you just reverse the tape and connect the ends to create a tube, sticky side out. Use as much tape as you need, but make sure it doesn’t show. I don’t have a lot of personal success with this one because my feet get sweaty in the shoes and it separates the tape loop.

4. Find a smaller pair of shoes. Somewhere in that room, someone has to have a pair of heels that are a ½ size too small and I strongly recommend you go find them. Yes, it will hurt, but not as much as a face plant on a runway and this is the only guaranteed way to keep them on your feet.



1. Lube up your foot with lotion and it will slide right in. It will feel kind of nasty, like your walking in slime, but you’ll get used to it.

2. Say a few choice curse words while you take a your first solidifying steps. Cursing is scientifically proven to help you handle pain, so go for it. Drop as many f-bombs as you need.

You’ve got to know when you’re fighting a losing battle, and in the case of this sweet teenager holding on to me for dear life with several feet of rolled up tape in her shoes, she will have to abandon the vessel her feet are trying to travel in. The next best step is into a new pair of shoes. She really lucked out though, because Taiya is going to learn a valuable lesson I learned 30 years ago: Use the right tape for the job, because at some point it has to come off and as the baby hairs and soft skin of my chest were removed abruptly when I pulled the make-shift bra off that night, I realized our mistake. Pulling duct tape of skin is like pulling a band aid off. Do it fast and don’t think about it.

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