For all but the most devout purists, the factors that dictate a fashion show’s impact go well beyond the clothes. The music, lighting, setting, special effects, and color palette create an effect more akin to theater or performance art. Fashion week productions have become increasingly elaborate over the years for many labels, justifying sprawling sets and exorbitant shipping costs. This season, McQ imported thousands of fallen leaves, Marc Jacobs built an eerie, whimsical kingdom from paper in a week, and Rick Owens backed his runway in a wall of flames. Click ahead to view the most impressive set designs from New York, London, Milan, and Paris. Who delivered the best Fashion Week spectacle?
Sculptor Rachel Feinstein built this castlelike set in the Lexington Armory in just a week and a half. The design is loosely inspired by one of her sculptures, Puritan's Delight. Marc Jacobs requested that the towers look like "the Marie Antoinette version of a ruin." The set is made mainly of paper.
Portland band Pink Martini played beneath an ornate chandelier and thousands of glittering string lights at the Lanvin show. In the audience, tables were piled with foie gras, chocolate, roses, and tiered cakes, and buckets of Champagne chilled in the center of the runway. After the show, Elbaz himself sang a rendition of "Que Será, Será."
Dolce & Gabbana
The runway was lined with flower-draped chandeliers at Dolce & Gabbana's baroque-themed set in Milan's Metropol. The models stepped out from behind an enormous gilded mirror flanked by sheer and satin curtains and garlands of (real) pink, lavender, and yellow roses. Opera music from La Traviata played overhead.
The McQ set resembled a hazy, wooded clearing, with a canopy of leaves spread underfoot. ("The leaves came from trees," the set designer deadpanned, when Style.com asked where they came from). At the end, Kristen McMenamy was showered by an array of falling leaves, and a strobe effect picked up in the dusky wood scene behind.
Band of Outsiders
Band of Outsiders built a Southwestern desert landscape, complete with red rock. The theme song to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly played overhead.
In Wu's Imperial China-inspired show, models emerged in a cloud of smoke from behind a giant red-lacquered door. The door, covered in gold studs, was meant to look like that of the Forbidden City.
Tommy Hilfiger created a makeshift park scene within the Park Avenue Armory, complete with gravel, autumnal trees, wooden benches, and a wrought-iron gate emblazoned with the initials TH.
Viktor & Rolf
Models struck a pose and slid across the stage on a conveyor belt before hoofing it down the runway at Viktor & Rolf. The clothes were set against a giant projected moon — photographers in the pit howled —which morphed between shades of silver, blue, and gold throughout the show.
One-hundred-and-eighty professional ice skaters showcased Monclers fall 2012 collection, gliding in formations around Central Park's Wollman rink. The surrounding trees were lit by colored spotlights that changed according to the clothes and music (from a choir-led rendition of "New York, New York" to hip-hop).
Erickson Beamon's fall set was notable less for its construction than its styling. Models sprawled on velvet sofas at the entrance, while inside, the scene was a Prohibition Era cabaret bar. Twenties-style flappers sipped cocktails and danced to live music by The Citizens Band.
At Kenzo, models glided up and down escalators before strutting around each of the three floors at the at the Université Pierre & Marie Curie. The lower level was strung with hundreds of neon light sticks.
A detail shot of the hanging tube lights at Kenzo.
Clusters of crystal formations jutted toward the skylight at Chanel, complementing the jewelry and tiny ice crystals adorning the models' brows. The runway was covered in glittering sand, which one guest pocketed, according to Fashionista.
The metal fixtures behind the Rick Owens runway ignited moments before the show, providing a burning backdrop for the collection. The soundtrack? Zebra Katz's discomforting rap "Ima Read," which drew criticism throughout the blogosphere.
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