It’s happening. Right now. Right this very second. Right as my feverish little fingers slave away in our dungeon office. They could have been lightly wiping the sweat away from my forehead as I run around looking a fence that I can scale so I can sneak into ERDEM. Or covering my mouth so the press lady from Burberry doesn’t see that twitch my lip does when I’m telling a great big ol’ fib. But alas, in my dungeon I remain, to give you a nostalgic walk through of the most ridiculous amount of money spent amazing runway concepts and setups.
If you can believe it, Fashion Week used to be a bit more low key. Think, models swanning around Coco Chanel’s Atelier, up and down the spiral staircase, through a few viewing rooms where a handful of industry bigwigs would be sitting on some chairs. That’s it.
Thank God that’s over, and now every big name brand competes for the most out of control set design ever. Season in and out, the big names smoke out the little guys with their crazy worlds that they build, only in existence for less than a day. Read on for the world’s that captured us, our imagination, and our thirst for a fuck ton of budget.
The Grand Palais in Paris was converted into a garish supermarket which had the models wander through, picking up produce, fighting over canned goods with dad pun names, and lugging Chanel shopping trolleys through the Stepford Wife-eske aisles.
The point of it all? Besides photo ops that had the likes of Rihanna getting cramped fingers from tapping that little red button obsessively, the show was a silent but not so subtle comment from Karl Lagerfeld on the commercialisation of the luxe brands for a younger, more fashion hungry market, a market that would buy just about anything with a label on it.
Christian Dior AW12
Have you seen Dior & I? No. Stop reading and go watch it. Can’t be fucked? Well fine, let me educate you. This documentary follows Raf Simons post Jil Sander, pre Calvin Klein, as he enters Christian Dior for the first time in his three year stint at creative director. It follows him manoeuvring around haute couture for the first time, stammering through terrible french but perfect earnest. Audience favourite Pieter Mulier stole everyone’s hearts.
Anyway, basically the film climaxes with the show. The show that is set out with room after room filled with colour blocked flower arrangements climbing up the walls and over the ceilings. You can see every gust that walks in eyes widen as the natural smell of all the flowers pleasantly slaps them in the face. Honestly, it sounds dickish and cliché, but I’m getting chills even thinking about it.
Philipp Plein AW14
I could just be because of the low slung jeans and cowboy hats in the show that romanticised this show for us and our memories, because when going on to YouTube to find footage of what I remember to be ‘FUCKING AWESOME’ was a little bit anticlimactic on replay. THAT WAS UNTIL THE BLOODY CAR BLEW UP AND CAUGHT ON FIRE.
This one might be cheating because technically they didn’t build or ideate this set, they simply sourced and finessed it. The models made their way through the classrooms, escalators, hallways, and corridors of three levels of the Université Pierre et Marie Curie, the amazing science and medicine university that you more than likely will have had come upon at some Pinterest search or another.
Louis Vuitton SS14
Chanel did a carousel in 2008, which was cool and all, but we’re more inclined to freak out over the Louis Vuitton take. It is eerie. It is creepy. It is Parisian goth chic. And that, my friends, we can get on board with. The models came out, made their way down an escalator and into a ‘playground’ that looks like The Secret Garden had Tim Burton brought it to life. There is a fountain, there is a the aforementioned carousel, there are huge black iron gates, there’s an ominous Louis Vuitton clock that keeps chiming, I mean I could go on with the minute details instead I will leave the link to the YouTube video here, and you can go on an easter egg hunt.
Romance Was Born SS13
If someone were to accuse me of favouritism and allowing my personal life to infiltrate my professional, they would be absolutely correct. I wanted to put every single Romance Was Born show on this list because as far as smaller independent brands go, these guys manage to create the most ludicrous runway world’s on par with the big boys. That and my first ever job in fashion was with them producing one of their show.
One in particular that I remember whispering ‘Absolutely. In no way in hell. Is that going to happen’ in a pre development meeting as the two designers laid out their plan. Fast forward and voila, we had built a jungle inside of a cathedral complete with a soil runway lined with bones, Swarovski crystal, paper mache dinosaur eggs, and let’s not forget the cloaked death like figures who acted as the seating staff. The models walked to the theme tune of Jurassic Park and for the finale? Like a Prayer.
However that wasn’t even my favourite. Zip forward to Spring Summer 13/14 to their collaboration with Australian sculptural artist Pip & Pop and that’s it. That’s the one. Might not look like much on initial glance, but take a closer look at the teeny tiny world built upon sugar. Literal caster sugar. I know, I sourced all those kilos of it.
Alexander McQueen EVERYTHING EVER
The man was a visionary. The man was a God. Honestly, it was just about impossible to think of only one incredible show that had come out of Alexander McQueens brain, so as per my usual penchant, I let my personal life bleed into my decision making – in this instance, chess.
The runway for Spring Summer 2005 was a chessboard. A bloody chessboard. And the models? Yup, you guessed it, the pieces.
Was the nod to the old school conquer and destroy board game combined with the 18th century Picnic at Hanging rock vibes a commentary on the fashion industry and it’s cut throat checkmate mentality? Who am I to say. But yes, I am saying that.