Runway

Sustainable and mind-blowing runway spaces from Fall/Winter 2020 shows

Set design spectacle works to heighten the show experience and intensify the fashion narrative, thanks to the magic conjured by these breathtaking show spaces for the Fall/Winter 2020 runway reveal, with increasing sustainability measures firmly in place.
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From Gucci's cinematic catwalk masterpiece that reveals all that happens behind the scenes to Givenchy's amazing spectacle at the Hippodrome de Longchamp in Paris and the transparent tubular structure erected for the Kenzo show, the Fall/Winter 2020 fashion shows were breathtaking sights to behold.

And with each, sustainability had become a major issue tackled by all. Here we round up the best showstoppers of the season for your viewing leisure.

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Image courtesy of Gucci

GUCCI

It was the making of a cinematic catwalk masterpiece that provided the storyline for the Gucci show. “I have always considered the fashion show as a magic event bursting with enchantment,” creative director Alessandro Michele mused.

The sanctity of creation and what lies behind the curtains of the runway ritual became the premise for its set design. Upon an environmentally friendly voice message invite via WhatsApp, guests arrived at the Gucci Hub in Milan to be greeted with a backstage scenario of models in robes being prepped for hair and makeup.

As the show opened, the sheer pink curtains shrouding a rotating circular space were dramatically dropped to unveil another behind-the-scenes set-up. The models were now being dressed in the season’s new looks before forming a mannequin-style presentation lining the edge within the glass enclosure. As they paraded out for the finale, the creative team took over their spots as Michele shone the spotlight on his band of “skillful hands” to whom he showered lavish acclaim in the show notes.

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Image courtesy of Saint Laurent

SAINT LAURENT

Taking up its usual spot at the mesmerising Fontaine du Trocadéro grounds right across the Eiffel Tower, it was a relatively scaled-down affair for Saint Laurent’s F/W ’20 show. Elegance with a sexy, voyeuristic edge made the cut this season as creative director Anthony Vaccarello juxtaposed house classics with latex to provoke a chic born from imperfection. “I wanted to find the balance between control and abandonment, the tension between discipline and pleasure that defines the modernity of Saint Laurent,” he said. Bureau Betak, an ISO-certified sustainable event management firm, used a route that minimised waste and maximised drama to frame the runway experience.

As each model trooped down a darkened catwalk located within a mirror-clad cavernous cube, a circle of light illuminated her from a series of moving spotlights, casting long shadows on the curved backdrop. This set design paved the way for the models to appear in the light before disappearing into the dark, making for a delicious game of playful peek-a-boo for the audience.

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Image courtesy of Prada

PRADA

Those familiar with Prada will know there is always tension underneath its calm façade. Its F/W ’20 show with a “Surreal Glamour” theme was held at the Deposito grand hall, the multifunctional venue for performances at the Fondazione Prada complex in MIlan. It was again AMO, OMA’s research and design unit, who conceived the streamlined but dynamic graphics of imaginary piazzas emanating with abstract energy.

Twin courtyards on a platform met guests at the base of a grand staircase. To demarcate the inside from the outside, portals were set symmetrically around the courts, while sinuous lines snaked across the floors and walls that consolidated it all into a cohesive three-dimensional space. Giant geometric floral motifs, like those found on Viennese Secessionist buildings, intersect the curvilinear patterns on the walls, while an Atlas statue held court at each centre stage among a series of sliding and interlocking planes. Mysterious red ether beckoned from the periphery of black walls, from which models entered and exited, being exposed and then concealed, as they wandered through the space.

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Image courtesy of Miu Miu

MIU MIU

Retro glamour swept into August Perret’s Palais d’lena—where Miu Miu traditionally shows in Paris—going from sober to audacious with patterns, colours and textures enlivening its architectural surfaces as prescribed by collaborator AMO.

A bold decorative carpet was laid at the entrance and grand staircase, and pervaded throughout the hypostyle. Metal frames equipped with LEDs embellished each colonnade and transformed it into a geometry of bright pink light, while a velvet plinth punctuated its base as visual effect and seating. Interspersed among the columns were reclaimed cinema seating, injecting the hall with dynamism and whimsicality.

Mirrors along the walls formed a backdrop for the traversing models, as well as serving to magnify the graphic effect. Orderly and precise modernism was successfully disrupted by irreverence and play in this phantasm of design. In line with sustainable priorities, the set-up materials were given to an association which recovers raw materials and decoration waste from fashion shows to avail them to professionals and students from the cultural sphere.

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Image courtesy of Burberry

BURBERRY

Not just a metaphor, it was a reflective moment at the Burberry show held in the National Hall at Kensington Olympia. Chief creative officer Riccardo Tisci named the collection “Memories” in a nod to the memory of his time spent in London as a youth, the places and people he encountered, and the music that inspired him. Connecting that to the codes and language of the brand he now helms, the collection’s concept was built around the house’s wealth of heritage and signature elements.

Sparing no effort, an elevated runway was constructed in the middle of the massive show space, captivating the seated audience flanking it with a super high-shine façade of mosaics and mirrors.

Perched on the first platform was another smaller one that provided the stage for pianists Katia and Marielle Labèque and producer Arca to perform a live soundscape curated for the show. All that musical splendour to accompany the army of models striding around them showcasing Burberry’s latest finery.

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 Image courtesy of Kenzo

KENZO

For his maiden outing, the newly appointed creative director Felipe Oliveira Baptista paid tribute to the spirit of the House of Kenzo—encapsulated by East meets West, colours, nature and flowers—with a tie-up to his own roots to shape a new cross-cultural unity on the green lawns of the Institut National de Jeunes Sourds in Paris.

Celebrating the wanderers of life, models stomped down a runway labyrinth covered by a transparent tubular structure, as though to represent the brand’s journey through style and a continued passageway between Kenzo Takada and Baptista himself.

To showcase this convergence of intimacy and universalism where the spirit of these global nomads is sheltered by their clothes is the modular nomadic object—produced in collaboration with Bureau Betak, which is to be repurposed in other formats at future events, such as pop-up stores or presentations.

This commitment to a recycle-friendly set that can be transformed into new objects reflects the collection’s progressive mobile wardrobe concept with its urban-elegant edge and transformational apparel.

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Image courtesy of Hermès

HERMÈS

Hermès reverted to the brand’s deeply entrenched equestrian roots for its F/W ’20 show, keeping things pared down with a set that evoked a horse-riding venue punctuated with a “forest of vertical bars” as described in the collection notes.

What decorated the show space at La Garde Républicaine in Paris in real life were towering Mikado-like sticks painted in stripes of bright colours. The graphic world continued with the appearance of models garbed in quintessential and timeless Hermès looks sporting accents of primary colours.

As they sauntered down the runway, syncing with the chromatic show-jumping poles surrounding them, a palpable sense of poetic rhythm and powerful harmony was created. Artistic director Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski embarked to refresh the Hermès palette with primary colours and also the notion of classicism amidst a modernist Mondrian showscape.

Directed by a mantra of “what is useful must be beautiful”, Vanhee-Cybulski’s mission was soundly accomplished, replete with functional design and styling alongside peerless craftsmanship and technique in perfect showcase.

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Image courtesy of Givenchy

GIVENCHY

Dramatic flair, feminine strength and heroines of French arthouse cinema were invariably linked, in flaming the imagination of creative director Clare Weight Keller in her “Arthouse Beauty” collection for the Givenchy F/W ’20 show.

Right from the outset, the presentation held at the Hippodrome de Longchamp in Paris was pregnant with cinematic allure permeating the mood at the show space, including the reception area where guests enjoyed a cocktail or two before being seated on stools of red Plexiglas. Striking red lighting and a hint of smoky air carried through from outside to within the venue.

Together with a spotlit runway, these elements formed the mainstay of the set design and created a complementary backdrop for the collection and its palette of mostly black, white and red hues. Pitting strong silhouettes with silky volumes and drapes, Waight Keller proved her seasoned mastery of the embodiment of the Givenchy woman as she united her with a modern reinterpretation of these powerful screen legends.

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