Making the Cut at Fashion Week

"Nightline" follows Jonny Cota of SKINGRAFT in the days leading up to his show, years in the making.
3:00 | 02/14/14

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Transcript for Making the Cut at Fashion Week
For inspiring designer, making it to New York fashion week is the ultimate dream come true. The headquarters of the multibillion dollar fashion business. But after years of hard work, the stakes are high. From first thread to final cut, designers only have minutes to make their name or break it. ABC's Rebecca Jarvis joined one designer for a wild week-long ride backstage at the runway. Reporter: It's one of the biggest fashion events of the year. Designers live or die by the tents of New York fashion week. Celebrities, buyer, bloggers, they all gather here to decide who moves on and who's left behind. Can we get all the models? Did anyone come? Reporter: And for the few lucky enough to get a spot under the tent, they have minute, even seconds to solidify their worth, fortify their presence and claim their position among the fashion elite. Let's do it. Reporter: It's not for the faint of heart and for Johnny coda from a small company based in L.A., this is it. A chance for a lifetime. I got all these butterflies. How long have you spent getting ready for this? I guess we've been getting ready for seven years. This is every young designer's dream. Reporter: He's generated the kind of buzz a young designer can only dream of. Worn by the likes of Rhianna and britn Britney, even Justin Bieber grabbed a bomber while turning himself into Toronto police last month. But nothing can compare to the buzz factor of showing at fashion week. We're here as Johnny prepares for his biggest photo op yet. Do it one more time. At the end of your walk, hold it. Reporter: There's just seven days to go and Johnny is agonizing over every look. Shake it out, relax. Reporter: He saw over 400 models in the span of just four hours. You have 10 seconds. You know, it's like, this is who I want to represent my line. Here's the spirit of it. So for me, models are incredibly important. He's almost too beautiful. Reporter: Too beautiful. So there is such a thing? For us, there is. It's like I want to kind of, these little alien kids. Their proportions were just a little different than what you would expect as classic beauty. That's what we look for. I think it's more interesting. I think it represents our brand better. Reporter: Butdown to the wire. Feeling overwhelmed. I need to have a better system when I do this. Reporter: The skin graft team is about to make the final cut. Only 20 models can star in the show. We have to fight for them. We're a small brand. We have a limited budget. You're not going to get everyone you want. I get everyone I want. Reporter: Putting on a show can cost upwards of $200,000. While it's the opportunity of a lifetime for smaller design housings like skin graft, it can be a hunl financige financial risk. What would be the curveball? Last night all of our credit cards weren't working. Reporter: Because you put all your money into the show. Reporter: We put our eggs in one basket. If we don't see a return on this, we're done. Reporter: They have to hire a big name stylist and even a beauty director. Shiny eyebrows. Reporter: How many looks are probably surrounding us right now? I would say almost 80. Reporter: It's a huge collection. We need to edit it down to exactly what we're going to show. It's a painful process. Reporter: This stylish is here to whittle down the rack of 80 outfits to just 36 of the most eye catching. So I have a little anxiety about that, but also excitement. Reporter: What is the story here? When you say you're creating this story. Well, I mean, the brand has a kind of aesthetic. It's dark, it's street. Reporter: Leather? Leather obviously. Reporter: But for the purposes of this story, I wanted to see how Johnny would style me. Oh, it's going to get dramatic up in here. Reporter: I'm scared wearing your clothes before they walk the runway. I don't want to mess them up. After all of this work you've put into them. I'm scared, too. Time to look. Oh, my gosh, that's so cute. I think I could rock this. Basically I would have to get a new life. But this would be amazing. It's two days to show time. Johnny is laser focused making sure every outfit is access raised and molded for each model. Everything must be individually fitted. I'm in love with the looks. I'm worried about the shoe. Okay? Stunning. O. It's stunning. Reporter: The looks are locked. But now it's all about who's who and where they're sitting. Kevin is not here. So we need to get him in this row. Reporter: Who do you hope is in the audience? We want the Elles and the Bos. But I also want the bloggers. I want the young trend setters to be there to hopefully be onboard with what we're doing. How are you? Kelly Catrone handles publicity for skin graft. This is a really big step. I know. Your ear going to the big boy room. I know. Reporter: Best known as the tough as nails judge on America's top nod el, Kelly's job is to ensure Johnny makes a big splash. 12 to 50 people really make a difference. So my focus is on those 12 to 50 people. I don't give a About the other kids who come in at black leather. They want to look cute and sit down that's great. Now I have a little bit of butterflies in my stomach. I would rather people not be able to get in than to have an empty seat. Reporter: It's game day. We meet Johnny backstage before the show in Lincoln center. Okay. I'm ready. Ten minutes up. Reporter: A small army of artists meticulously attending the models' hair, makeup, nails and wardrobe. Can we get all the models. Reporter: It's a controlled chaos. All day I was a weirdo. I couldn't talk to anyone. I was overwhelmed, had butterflies in my stomach. Things I don't usually experience. But I was realizing the importance of tonight for the first time. There was a little whiskey back here. Where did that go? Reporter: At 7:00 P.M. The crowd begins to fill the tent. . Everyone is in their seat. The celebrities are in the front row. Reporter: Years of work, months of planning all leading up to this. Johnny's moment has finally arrived. Let's line up. Amaze, amazing. Okay, cool. Let's do it. Reporter: It's showtime. And in the blink of an eye, it's over. How are you feeling? Amazing. I'm going to disneyland. Reporter: The audience certainly had some vips. But now it's a waiting game to see if that seven minutes of stardom under the big tent will pay off and give Johnny his big break. When can you say I've made it in the. Never. I'll never feel like we've made it. I feel like if you say that, you stop trying. But I think that we'll never make it. We will hopefully get good. Reporter: I'm Rebecca Jarvis

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