Hermès: The Parisian maison upped its game for A/W 2020, creating a show set at La Garde Républicaine in Paris, resembling a graphic world populated with giant Mikado sticks. Models walked through Hermès’ high jinks habitat, with its Mikado props painted in graphic stripes of primary colour. Their patterns nodded to the design of the maison’s debut line of lipsticks which launched in February, and are housed inside chic striped cases, which close with a satisfying magnetic click.
Akris: At the Paris Museum of Modern Art, Akris' A/W 2020 show was an ode to the masterminds of the modernist movement. Taking place in the world capital of avant-garde, models walked the curved gallery – Salle de Duffy – clad in cubist prints and graphic tailoring. The minimalist space, broken up by colourful artworks by Robert Delaunay, Georges Braque and Pierre Chareau, created the perfect backdrop to the collection inspired by L'Union des artistes modernes.
Burberry: The British heritage brand invited guests to take moment of self reflection in the spacious National Hall at Kensington Olympia, where the raised runway was covered in sparkling mosaics and mirrored sides. The mood was set by musician and producer Arca, whose cerebral sound and electronic beats meshed with the classical chords of famed pianists Katia and Marielle Labèque under the glass dome of the 134-year-old building.
Bottega Veneta: For A/W 2020, creative director Daniel Lee was keen to operate with more sustainable show set mindset. For his third show for the house, Lee set up a series of bisecting white fabric screens inside a huge former ice rink from the Twenties in Milan. As models entered the catwalk, these were projected with the classical arched facade of an Italianate villa and densely patterned mosaic floors, plus muscly male statues which humorously changed position as the show progressed. Palladian prowess without the wasted building supplies.
Gucci: Creative director Alessandro Michele was intrigued by the ritualistic nature of the runway show, and the many behind-the-scenes components that make up that magical, fleeting moment. ‘I offer my poetics to this tribe of emancipated spectators,’ he said of his A/W 2020 runway show which offered a backstage insight into a catwalk set up, with guests entering the Gucci Hub in Milan through a hair and make up space, with models milling in dressing gowns. Then they found themselves in a dark carpet-lined octagonal room with a gauzy pink circular curtain at its centre. When the show began the curtain dropped to reveal another backstage set up, with assistants dressing models live on stage in a multifaceted array of outfits, from seventies suiting to shrunken victoriana dresses.
Louis Vuitton: Nicolas Ghesquière returned to the Louvre Museum, where inside a glass box-like show venue, a swathing curtain appeared at the end of the runway. Ghesquière has long been fascinated with historicism, drawing on period costume in his futuristic vision, and as the show began the curtain lifted to reveal a host of singers in costumes ranging from the fifteenth century to 1950. Clad in ostentatious silhouettes dreamt up costume designer Milena Canonero, they appeared like visitants from the past, passing comment on Ghesquière’s clothing of the future.
Rokh: Rok Hwang had models frolicking in the fields at Rokh's A/W 2020 show in Paris. Decorating the runway using a grid of delicate Erica flowers, the designer wanted to celebrate his sister's wedding taking place in Seoul on the same day as the show. The small purple flowers – his sister's favourites – and the collection was a celebration of Hwang's favourite memories of their childhood, making the show a heart-warming family affair.
Marni: ‘Beauty in leftovers,’ explained creative director Francesco Risso of the inspiration behind his spliced and diced A/W 2020 collection. His fascination was reflected in the show’s accompanying set design, which resembled an interstellar greenhouse or odd meditative retreat accessed. This was accessed through a tent-lined tunnel, populated with piles of soft internal sponge in Pepto-Bismol tones, taken from old sofa cushions.
Givenchy: A sinister red light and a dramatic hit of dry ice swathed the facade of the brand’s Longchamp Racecourse location in Paris - a fitting atmosphere for an accompanying A/W 2020 collection dedicated to the heroines of French art house cinema. Guests entered the cinematic space, where they were served champagne cocktails from drinks trolleys by smart tuxedo-clad waiters, before being seated on red Plexiglas stools, lining a a spotlit runway.
Jil Sander: Creative directors Lucie and Luke Meier chose a recently refurbished former thermo-electric station in Milan for Sander's A/W 2020 show location. ‘We love the space because it’s a work in progress,’ they exclusively told Wallpaper* before the show. ‘We’re here for a fleeting moment and we like the temporary essence'. Sander was the first brand to hold a show in the space, which is soon to be the exhibition site of ADI, the Associazione per il Design Industriale. The expansive space was populated with mismatched vintage chairs sourced in France and Italy and as each of the models strode down the catwalk, they settled on one of the wooden seating options which lined the centre of the runway.
Versace: There was something psychedelic about the Milan brand’s show set up, which on entrance, featured a lengthy mirrored screen opposite raised tiered seating. As fashion editors gazed awkwardly at themselves before the show began, the screen began pulsating and undulating like glass in a funhouse or as if one was feeling the effects of a hallucinogenic trip. As the frow watched their physiognomy merge and enlarge, a tessellation of Donatella Versace’s flawless visage suddenly appeared on screen, which changed into different perfect posing positions before the show began.
Saint Laurent: A stone's throw from the Eiffel Tower, Saint Laurent's A/W 2020 runway took place in its regular spot at the Trocadéro, where the iconic French maison put on a more private affair than usual. Guests were greeted by a mirror-clad cubic venue, with dusky interiors and soft beige carpet. As the show began, spotlights followed the models along the runway as they cast long shadows against the curved backdrop in the stark contrast of light.
Celine: At Les Invalides in Paris, we’ve marvelled at Hedi Slimane’s magnificent and mechanical runway sets - which have included a large red curtained box hovering in space. For A/W 2020, an enormous mechanical version of the Celine Triomphe logo – first used by the Parisian maison in 1973 in an ode to the Arc de Triomphe, and reintroduced by Hedi Slimane – stood at the head of the runway. It was a nod to the bourgeois tropes, from culottes to riding boots, that he has reintroduced to the house. It became illuminated and began rotating as the show began, to a soundtrack devised by French-born guitarist and songwriter Sofia Bolt.
Dior: This season the French maison mixed things up, swapping its usual venue at the Musée Rodin for a pavilion in the Tuileries garden. As guests entered, they were greeted by statements and slogans in neon signs, courtesy of the brand's collaboration with the anonymous Italian female collective Claire Fontaine. Inspired by Italian second-wave feminists Carla Lonzi and Silvia Federici, the messages is as fitting today as it was during the 60s.
Ports 1961: For AW/2020 Ports 1961 presented bourgeoise dressing with a rebellious twist. As meticulously deliberate as the pussy-bow knots around the models' necks, was the carefully considered and slightly abstract show space. Models weaved through square blocks with rounded cutouts – reminiscent of the brand's logo – as guests perched on red benches on either side of the runway for the best view of the dramatic setting.
Boss: For the German brand's A/W 2020 runway, the brand hit a purple patch. The guests were invited to a world of lovely lilacs where every detail followed the monochromatic colour-scheme – down to the purple drinks offered in tiny milk bottles. Live musicians played Henri Scars Struck's Down to Earth as models circled the stage in a co-ed colour-blocked collection encompassing everything from suiting to sportswear.
Miu Miu: Miuccia Prada rolled out the retro carpet for A/W 2020, working with regular collaborators AMO on a show set at its regular Palais d’Iena location in Paris, lined with graphic vintage blooms. A candyfloss pink hue dominated the space, as the staircase of the August Perret-designed interior was illuminated by metal frames lined with saccharine-hued LEDs. In a cinematic sweep, guests sat on mismatched cinema chairs in plush red velvet, as models strode the catwalk in silhouettes depicting decadent, bygone glamour.
Balenciaga: Guests entered an apocalyptic, flooded landscape inside Luc Besson’s Cité du Cinema building in the suburbs of St Denis, Paris. Stadium seating was submerged in viscous water (unluckily for fashion editors, the first two rows were completely sunken). Models sloshed along the runway, while above them huge projections screened images of global climate crisis – from raging flames to frantic birds in flight – and a techno soundtrack pounded. Backstage, creative director Demna Gvaslia offered a surprisingly positive take on his runway setup, emphasising the power and beauty of fashion amidst a vision of the end of the world.
Prada: For Miuccia Prada’s final show as sole creative director of the Milanese house, OMA set up two sunken piazzas inside the Deposito space of the Prada Foundation, lined by rectangles of raised seating. The set up nodded to the layout of the brand’s menswear show in January, but this time the walls of the piazzas were lined with retro wallpaper tessellated with blooms and squiggly lines. Inside each courtyard stood a statue of the Greek Titan — who was condemned to carry the heavens on his shoulders — rendered in flat interlocking planes.
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