Prada: As usual, AMO were behind the transformation of the grand hall at the Deposito, the multifunctional venue for performances that is part of the Fondazione Prada complex in Milan. Centred around whimsical piazzas, guests were gathered on platforms, viewing the collection from above. Below, models were weaving in and out of symmetrical portals lining the fabricated squares – Dramatically lit to cast long, afternoon-like shadows.
Scene-stealing runway sets from the A/W 2020 menswear shows
We round-up the most sensational set design from the A/W 2020 menswear shows, from brands including Prada, Loewe, Gucci and Dior
Dior: The specially constructed space on Place de La Concorde in Paris was according to men’s artistic director, Kim Jones, ‘an ode to all those who have been with us and passed on, from Christian Dior to Judy Blame’. The atmospheric space, centred on glass-boxes filled with smoke and lit up in hues of orange and blue, perfectly framed the collection with a subtle nod to the Buffalo Boy inspiration.
Feng Chen Wang: Following a recent trip to the Wuyi Mountains in the Fujian province of China, Feng Chen Wang took inspiration from the mist at dawn when creating the eponymous brand’s show set this season. Using icy hues of blues and reds reflected on smoke, the space was set up as a gallery instead of a traditional runway – leaving the audience with a single perspective decided by Feng Chen Wang. Emulating the sunrise, the audience was left immersed in darkness, with the colours shifting from orange, red and blue. Photography: Haydon Perrior
Y/Project: Inspired by artists Charles Pétillon and Olafur Eliasson, known for their playful aesthetic, set-designer Dennis Vanderbroeck collaborated with creative director Glenn Martens in creating a tongue-in-cheek Paris setting to accompany Y/Project’s latest collection. With whimsical wit, Vanderbroeck took the guests on a trip down memory lane. Bringing us back to our school days, the runway was constructed in a traditional gym circling a balloon-filled ball pit we were desperate to dive in to headfirst.
MSGM: Legendary film director and master of Italian Horror, Dario Argento, served as inspiration and collaborator for MSGM’s show in Milan. Saturated colours, killer aesthetics and a playfully sinister tone painted the perfect background for the collection, which featured prints of flesh-eating plants and a colour scheme lifted straight from Argento’s frightening classics. Inspired by Argento’s 1975 film Deep Red, the light sculpture in the centre was casting long reflections on the polished concrete floors bathing the runway in blood red.
A-Cold-Wall*: Centred around sea-green see-through boxes with metal wiring, the London brand’s Milan show set married the manmade with the natural. Originally an ice rink, Palazzo del Ghiaccio’s delicate interiors from 1923 was put in juxtaposition with massive blocks of glass. Research for the collection looked to one of the fundamentals of life, water, using the element’s flowing shapes as a foundation for the design. This was then married with structured hoods supported by wireframes and utilitarian designs, perfectly mirroring in the duality of the show space.
Raf Simons: It felt as if we were starring in an early episode of Star Trek when we entered Raf Simon’s show space this season. In a brilliant retro-futuristic mix, Studio Kremlin in Paris had been transformed into what looked like an alien planet form the 1960s. A low set sun framed the aptly named collection, ‘Solar Youth’, with folds of fabric lining the walls and columns. And when we thought it couldn’t get any better, an instrumental version of David Bowie’s ‘Life on Mars’ played during the big finale.
Gucci: Set in Piazza VI Febbraio in Milan, the house’s collection space was built in the style of an amphitheatre. As the space filled with shamanic singing and the noise of beetles at night, guests entered the moody stadium and filed into roughly textured bleachers. Built around the concept of time, the Gucci show set featured an oversized mechanised pendulum, which swung 360 degrees around its own axis, leaving tracks in the black sand, which took centre stage.
Ermenegildo Zegna: This season, Ermenegildo Zegna took the idea of recycling one step further. Not only implementing this mind-set in the design of the collection, but also the show set. Under the creative direction of Alessandro Sartori, American multi-media artist Anne Patterson created an installation using thousands of ribbons derived from surplus Ermenegildo Zegna textiles. Hosted in a former Milanese foundry, the strips of fabric created a geometric forest in shades of blue where models marched aimlessly to techno beats.
Louis Vuitton: Virgil Abloh invited us into an outlandish world for the Louis Vuitton A/W 2020 show. Inspirations came from Belgian 20th-century artist René Magritte’s surrealist paintings, with the set constructed inside a giant box inside the Tuileries Gardens. The heavenly space featured blown-up artisanal tools in the form of cartoonish cotton reels, rulers, scissors and paintbrushes, all symbolising the brand’s deep-rooted tradition in craftsmanship.
Giorgio Armani: The Italian luxury house had, as per usual, their Teatro in Milan obscured by darkness. Making us shiver, we were transported to a cold winter’s night by giant screens covering the walls with a slow and silent fall of snow. Ice sculptures made out of recycled plexiglass– previously featured in the brand’s window displays – took centre stage in creating frozen tundra. We completely embrace Giorgio Armani for ski season, having caught a chill at the show!
Marni: Marni invited us to fall down the rabbit hole straight into a euphoric rave with their A/W 2020 collection - where nothing seemed to be as it should. A vast empty space, filled by swaying, spinning models who entered the derelict mega venue through a fluoro-lit tunnel of corrugated metal set the scene. The open space hosted Michele Rizzo’s choreography, famed to work at the intersection of performance and art, who gave us a taste of escapism with his psychedelically choreographed performance.
Sacai: Pallets of cement blocks neatly kept together by colourful straps, met the guests at Grand Palais for Sacai’s show this season. Recreating a building site, the set symbolised the action of construction and deconstruction in the curved venue, a 2013 addition to the historic building. Weaving through the building materials, models were walking down the runway in utilitarian clothes of the co-ed collection – reflecting the urban setting. Photography: Stéphanie Aït Ouarab
Acne Studios: At La Carrousel Du Louvre in Paris, Acne Studios welcomed its guests with muted Scandinavian minimalism. The stripped-back set featured a white wall separating the women’s and men’s shows, which were taking place simultaneously in the same vast hangar-like space. The reflective floor helped showcase the looks from every angle, as the models passed the guests in esoterically patterned clothes with deconstructed details.
Hermès: Returning to an old favourite, the Parisian luxury brand hosted its A/W 2020 runway in a furniture storehouse in the heart of the Mobilier National. The Mobilier has been providing furnishings for royal residences since 1870, and the various chairs lining the catwalk, in particular, had us enthralled. Part of the Mobilier’s collections from the 20th and 21st centuries, these beauties were designed by design heavyweights such as Philippe Starck, Mario Botta, and Jean-Michel Wilmotte - to name a few.
Loewe: With Loewe drawing inspiration from scorching and stripped back opulence, the main feature of its A/W 2020 runway made a lot of sense. Held at Maison de l’UNESCO in Paris, the runway set up’s blackened wood, made out to look like a weathered dock, was lined by plexiglass chairs and lights made to resemble ecclesiastic stained-glass windows. This created a starch contrast between light and darkness, and the perfect backdrop to creative director, Jonathan Anderson’s, youthful wardrobe.
Givenchy: The intimate setting for Givenchy this season was their own Paris Haute Couture salon in Paris, with herringbone hardwood floors and stucco walls framing the collection inspired by Les Arts Décoratif’s exhibition on the Maharaja of Indore. The select guests were perched on mirrored cubes, as the models made their entrance down the grand staircase and through the doorways decorated with grey flowers - Looking as universally travelled, and incredibly chic, as the Maharaja himself.
Jil Sander: Taking to the majestic show space at Santa Maria Novella, Jil Sander transformed the Florence Basilica with marigolds piled high. Drawing inspiration from the dessert of South-West America, and the famed Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy, creative directors Luke and Lucie Meier perfectly married the minimal with the maximal. The muted lighting set the tone, as the models took to the catwalk lined with supportive pillars to Bjork’s Hidden Place. The scene was definitely soothing for the soul! §