LONDON, PARIS, and MILAN – Now that the tarnished confetti has been swept away and the decaying bouquets thrown away, only memories remain of the 2018 Autumn/Winter fashion shows. However, some brands distinguished themselves from the runway-of-the-mill with creative and unexpected set designs that will retain their value in our attention economy for some time to come. From digital innovations to political messages, the following designers used different expedients to amaze audiences, contribute context and of course, #slay social media.
At London Fashion Week, models walked through an archway of rainbow lasers for Burberry.
Designed by local studio United Visual Artists, the light installations on the Burberry runway replaced traditional stage design with a fluidly abstract environment responsive to music and the models. The rainbow lasers also carried a wider meaning; celebrating Burberry creative director Christopher Bailey’s rainbow tartan, designed in support of LGBTQ charities for his final collection with the brand. The rainbow stripes in Burberry's iconic tartan celebrates love and inclusivity as well as honours the strength, beauty and creativity in diversity.
From the space-age vibes of Burberry, Chanel brings us back down to earth with a refreshingly simple yet evocative set. Nine real oak trees were transplanted for the show and placed against a huge backdrop of yet more trees in the distance, emerging from the fog. Thousands of fallen leaves covering the catwalk complete the rather stark ambiance of autumn, complementing the cosy, somewhat romantic looks in the collection.
In contrast with these digital and natural extremes, the Dior Paris fashion show offers another concept and direction. The set created by renowned designer and jury member Alexandre de Betak consists of a collage of 3,000 posters referencing the 1968 protests in France. While this year marks the 50th anniversary of the social movement, de Betak’s design is also informed by that fact that it was around 1969 that Marc Bolan launched the fashion house’s first ready-to-wear line.
Emphasizing the revolutionary sentiment, a mirrored ceiling reflects and repeats the messages beneath while a poster at the end of the runway shouts I AM A WOMAN. Dior’s attempt to align itself with the feminist spirit of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements is hardly subtle, as every surface is covered in the clamour of political slogans. This climate of social revolution also prevails in the hippie hemlines and bohemian fabrics of the collection inspired by the 1960s.
Meanwhile, Moncler commissioned eight separate collaborators to produce galleries in eight totally different styles for their show in Milan. One installation involved a giant mirror reflecting the models lying on the ground, while the collection by Simone Rocha was in an alien world composed of scrunched-paper through which the models stalked in entirely black Victorian-space outfits.