AMI: The show venue that Alexandre Mattiussi chose for autumn brought music to both the ears and the eyes. The Théâtre National de Chaillot is the largest concert hall in Paris, and located at the place du Trocadero, boasts spectacular views of the city’s splendid skyline. ‘I wanted to evoke something elevated, elegant, and almost calming with the set this season,’ explains Mattiussi, who worked on its set design and production with OBO. Guests sat in a monochromatic space dressed with camel-brown curtains, and at the climax of the show, these were parted, revealing through a floor-to-ceiling window, a breathtaking view of the Eiffel Tower. Photography: Gio Staiano
Scene-stealing runway sets from the A/W 2019 menswear shows
Berluti: For his debut collection at the creative helm of Italian label Berluti, Kris Van Assche was inspired by a marble table at the brand’s Ferrara factory, where skilled artisans dye the shoes. His accompanying Paris runway show location was equally well-polished. Held in the resplendent marble-clad Grand Escalier of the opera house Palais Garnier, the show’s models circulated grand staircases and column-lined floors, constructed from slabs and mosaics of finely honed marble. Image courtesy of villa eugénie
Celine: Following the setup of his debut womenswear show last season, Hedi Slimane erected an imposing black box in the Place de la Concorde for his inaugural menswear show for Celine. An glowing orb stood on the brand’s catwalk, illuminated with criss-crossing fluorescent tubes. As the show, began, to the sounds of Mozart, the sculpture began to glide down the catwalk. The Luxor Obelisk loomed in the backdrop, Paris’ past and future meeting head on.
Craig Green: ‘I wanted the show to appear as if it happened any place at any time,’ Green said of the inspiration behind his A/W 2019 runway set, staged within a densely arched underground space inside the old Billingsgate Fish Market on the Bankside of London’s River Thames. The exposed brick walls, black benches and stark white runway had an ambigious air, non specific to a particular decorative movement or interior aesthetic.
Vetements: A night spent eating pizza and watching Night at the Museum, inspired creative director Demna Gvasalia to stage Vetement’s A/W 2019 show at the French National Museum of Natural History in Paris. Towering taxidermy animals, from giraffes to zebras, stood erect at the centre of the catwalk, circled by the brand’s models, clad in anarchic spray paint slogan hoodies, slouchy denim and balaclavas.Photography: Gio Staiano
Hermès: The Parisian maison had French design on its mind, staging the show at the Mobilier National, a bureau which alongside the French Ministry of Culture, monitors all furniture and objects in the royal residences since 1870. Inside the space, guests sat on benches; behind them were bright orange and yellow stacked shelves, piled high with furniture, from baroque console tables to a 1960s metal chair by Olivier Mourgue. Home comforts indeed! Photography: Matthieu Raffard
Kenzo: Creative directors Carol Lim and Humberto Leon are renowned for their innovative set design concepts. Just look to S/S 2019’s jazz club-inspired setup or the scene of Kenzo’s Memento 3 collection, complete with a sumptuous feast and verdant interior inspired by Rousseau’s ‘The Dream.’ The brand were brewing up something a little more hallucinatory for A/W 2019, with a trippy, kaleidoscopic show set in Paris, bursting with figures and optical patterns: an Ayahuasca dreamscape painted by the Peruvian artist Pablo Amaringo. Photography: Yang Wang
Louis Vuitton: For his sophomore show for the Parisian maison, men’s artistic director Virgil Abloh had Manhattan on his mind. At the Jardin des Tuileries, the designer erected a New York Street-inspired catwalk, complete with rows of grocery and barber shops, bins spilling with rubbish, towering lampposts, discarded furniture and swirling leaves. The show also featured a live installation by graffiti artists Jim Joe, Lewy Btm and Futura. Models drifted across the set like commuters striding through the New York streets. Real Big Apple thinking.
Marni: Creative director Francesco Risso amped up the bass for A/W 2019, with a runway set stacked with piles of speakers. Guests sat on tiered rows of seating, as if assembled inside a giant sound system, a volume-turning take on set design.
Off-White: It’s often noted, that despite the presence of social media, allowing access to once off-limits fashion shows, that runway spectacles are better seen in the flesh. Ever innovative Virgil Abloh turned this concept on its head for A/W 2019. The staging of Off-White’s show was accompanied by a set resembling a forest floor, overlaid with a green screen. The result? As viewers watched through Instagram, a series of mesmeric animations were applied to the catwalk, provided an alternate digital reality for those at home.
Prada: The Milanese brand had a light-bulb moment for autumn. Working with regular collaborators AMO, Prada created a theatrical field of lighting in its recently opened Deposito space of the Fondazione Prada. A catwalk was formed from eerily illuminated glowing light bulbs, a nod to the scientific experiments documented in Mary Shelley’s gothic novel Frankenstein, which inspired the cartoonish prints in the collection. Photography: Osio
Loewe: A/W 2019 marked Jonathan Anderson’s first fully fledged menswear runway show for the Spanish house, one held in the same location as his lauded womenswear shows: the Maison de l’UNESCO in Paris. Anderson is renowned for incorporating art into his catwalk designs. His S/S 2019 show for Loewe’s womenswear was divided into a series of exhibition rooms, inspired by the avant-garde Sixties art gallery Signals London. For A/W 2019 menswear, Anderson hung Gelbe Modellierung, a 1985 fabric sculpture by Franz Erhard Walther at the head of Loewe’s catwalk. The piece was part of a series of installations the artist created between 1978 and 1986 called ‘wallformations’, constructed using sheets of canvas and basic clothing patterns.
Qasimi: London-based designer Khalid Al Qasimi worked with production company BOUM on a breathtakingly stark show space. At the old Collins Music Hall in North London, in a forgotten underground venue, models descened a triple-floor scaffolding stairwell and walked into the centre of a looming concrete interior, lined at ground level with rows of black chairs. Sumptuous high loom carpet underfoot provided a luxurious contrast to the bare and stripped-back show set.
Sacai: In the curving first floor Galerie Courbe at the Grand Palais in Paris – a stark glass-roofed space which opened in 2013 – guests were seated in single line on eclectic seating, from deep shell-like sofas to desk chairs, stools to foldable garden seats. A smattering of faded rugs also lined the catwalk, adding to the mix-and-match aesthetic. Photography: Stéphane Aït Ouarab, La Mode en Images.
Cerruti 1881: A trip by chief creative officer Jason Basmajian to the Royal Academy of Arts’ ‘Oceania’ exhibition in London last autumn, inspired Cerruti 1881’s A/W 2019 show set. Held at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, the show’s catwalk was populated with contemporary takes on totem poles, constructed using everyday materials like air conditioning tubes and piles of wooden blocks shrink wrapped into plastic pockets.
Neil Barrett: For his brand’s A/W 2019 show, at his vast concrete-line Storage Associati-designed Milan HQ, Neil Barrett lined his catwalk with digital screens. These displayed a series of films focused on the city alight at night. Their musical accompaniment? The pulsating frenetic sounds of Shygirl’s ‘Want More’.
Ermenegildo Zegna Couture: Artistic director Alessandro Sartori looked to commuter life for inspiration, holding Ermenegildo Zegna Couture’s show in the grand foyer of Milano Centrale station. Sartori collaborated with events behemoth Bureau Betak, which dressed the space in large LED columns illuminated with endlessly scrolling numbers, like haywire train timetables. If only every evening commute was as exciting.