Scene-stealing runway sets from the S/S 2020 womenswear shows
The vibrant tableaus that tested boundaries and brought delight, direct from fashion's capital cities
Balenciaga: In a show set inspired by Brussels, and the ongoing political tumult of Brexit, creative director Demna Gvasalia erected an in-the-round show set at Luc Besson’s Cité du Cinema building in the suburbs of St Denis – which resembled the European Parliament. Guests say in a spiral of office chairs in a huge curtain-lined assembly room swathed in bold blue, and on the ceiling, huge panels of strip lights illuminated the botched cosmetic surgery make up looks sported by models on the carpeted runway.
Boss: There was an air of Olafur Eliasson behind the brand’s industrial S/S 2020 show space, which marked its debut showing in Milan, after a regular slot at New York Fashion Week. Guests entered the cavernous warehouse, where figurative shadows were projected onto the walls, in tones of purples, oranges and cerulean (block colour was also a signature of the spring offering). The silhouettes recalled the figurative shadow works of the sustainability-minded Icelandic artist, whose work is currently on show in a retrospective at the Tate Modern in London.
Prada: There was a mosaic mindset behind the brand’s S/S 2020 women’s show venue – created with regular collaborators AMO – and held at the huge Deposito show space at the Fondazione Prada. The venue was swathed floor to ceiling in a colourful tessellation of Liquorice allsort-hued ceramic tiles, like lilac, yellow, turquoise and chestnut. There was something of the mid-century Milanese bathroom behind the show venue set up, which also featured gold columns and pillars, infusing the space with a warming light.
Chanel: It was up up and away for Virginie Viard’s debut show at the creative helm of the Parisian maison. There was a realism to Viard’s show venue space at Chanel’s regular Grand Palais location, which under the tenure of Karl Lagerfeld saw it transformed into a space station, tropical beach and the waterfalls of the Gorges du Verdon. Instead, she looked to the brand’s home city, erecting a runway of Haussmannien rooftops, with models weaving around air conditioning vents, fire escapes and drainpipes.
Dior: For her environmentally-minded S/S 2020 women’s show, Maria Grazia Chiuri erected a box-like, organic wooden structure at the Hippodrome de Longchamp. Inside, guests marveled at a dimly lit woodland scene, featuring 170 geometrically placed trees, nodding to Monsieur Dior’s longtime love of horticulture. For spring, Dior partnered with Coloco, a landscaping atelier specialising in sustainable, urban gardens and the show set's trees were of different species, a metaphor for inclusivity. After, they were planted in different regions of Paris, to reinforce wooded areas, including GoodPlanet Foundation in Longchamp and the Murs à Pêches site in Montreuil.
Loewe: There was something sublimely serene about the Spanish label’s show venue set up at its regular Maison de L’Unesco location. Here, its meandering rooms were lined with plush cream carpet, and rows of tall white bar stools. Also dotted around the space were sparkling amethyst geodes and huge pots of South American Pampas grass, which – along with gentle moving lace window blinds – began spinning as the show began.
Gucci: At the Piuarch-designed Gucci Hub, guests entered an all-white monochromatic box, resembling a Brutalist house of worship. Inside, a sterile S/S 2020 scene awaited, lined with white waiting room chairs, like an eerie hospital or stark spaceship. Four aqua toned travelators bisected the space, illuminated by strip lighting and ecclesiastical star shaped lamps in the ceiling. As the show began, monastic arches lined with corrugated metal shutters began grinding to attention, raised to reveal the first model who sped mechanically into the space.
Marni: ‘It was so beautiful watching old bottles become beautiful leaves,’ said creative director Francesco Risso, of the concept behind the Italian house’s S/S 2020 women’s show set. This saw the plastic bottles used to create an eerie underwater scene for the brand’s men’s show in June, reused and transformed into recycled plastic palm fronds, as part of a childlike jungle show set created by Berlin based artist Judith Hopf. Handpainted cardboard trees lined Marni’s industrial space in an ode to the naive beauty of nature and the possibilities of sustainable manufacturing. ‘The set is about how we think about those things we have already around us,' Hopf explained.
Fendi: For her S/S 2020 ‘Solar Flair’ collection, Silvia Venturini Fendi erected a long glossy catwalk at the brand’s usual Via Solari show space. The venue was bathed in a warm golden hue, and models entered the catwalk through a half elliptical outline of the sun. The 5th Dimension’s Aquarius (Let the Sunshine In) soundtrack enhanced the summery, sun-drenched scene.
Saint Laurent: The label staged a magnificent light show at its usual Fontaine du Trocadéro location, slap-bang in front of the Eiffel Tower. Last season; UV lights illuminated neon elements in models’ clothing inside a huge silver box. For S/S 2020, hundreds of floor lights projected white beams into the sky, illuminating models in graphic tessellations of light, as they strode through the set up in Le Smoking and fluid lamé dresses.
JW Anderson: ‘It’s about taking things we no longer want and repositioning them into something new,’ said Jonathan Anderson of Canadian visual artist 2018’s artwork ‘Pet Co.', first exhibited at Carpenter Centre in Harvard, and recreated for his eponymous label’s S/S 2020 show. Inside the brand’s usual Bloomsbury location, ‘Pet Co.' stood in the center of the rectangular runway, formed from a stacked assemblage of polyester film casings used in museum’s, filled with childhood ephemera like the deflated bodies of soft colourful toys.
Simone Rocha: The designer is renowned for presenting her collections in magnificent London venues, from Southwark Cathedral to The Royal Academy of Art. For S/S 2020, guests ventured north to Alexandra Palace, where for the first time in its history, the Grade II listed venue staged a fashion show in a recently restored Victorian theatre. Models circled the in-the-round venue, surrounded by peeling gold walls and cornices, while the audience sat clustered around the stage or high up in the theatre’s balcony.
Hermès: At the label’s regular Tennis Club de Paris venue, the brand erected a softly futuristic setting, lined with stark Brutalist pillars and bathed in a pinkish hue. The space featured a graphic water fountain at its center, and guests sat around the plush space on benches swathed in thick carpet.
Givenchy: The brand called for a moment of self-reflection at Garde Républicaine, with a breathtaking show set populated with rows of mirrored benches. In the minimalist space, models strode down sections of stark white runway. The show was themed around aesthetic contrasts, and the mirrored show set was a symbol of this close attention.
Louis Vuitton: It was a more stripped back setup for the maison’s spring show, which last season saw a space outside the Louvre transformed into the colourful pipe-lined Centre Pompidou. For S/S 2020, creative director Nicolas Ghesquière returned to Vuitton’s regular museum venue, this time erecting a stark Brutalist box lined with timber stadium seating, sourced entirely from sustainably managed forests in France. At the centre of the runway, the Scottish record producer Sophie appeared onscreen singing an extended version of ‘It’s Okay to Cry’.
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