A strange outfit or dramatic make-up is not the only thing that emphasizes a fashion show these days. Whether it’s elaborate set design, art installations, live music or entertainment, fashion designers are breaking out of their mold and becoming innovative with their shows.
Today, fashion shows are more daring and experimental in design and execution. The ramp has also become a theater set and designers are taking advantage of live music and costumes that follow a strong narrative. The more intense the music and design philosophy, the better it fits the audience and the designer’s story around his or her collection.
Music to the rescue
For pianist Sahil Vasudeva, live music is like a film that needs to be in harmony with the concept and the direction, the highs and lows, crescendoes and tension points of a performance. “Live music can bring energy to a fashion show and connect with the audience. It works like a soul in an act that cannot record sound in its place,” says Vasudeva, who takes care of the keys of his piano for shows to bring Indian and western tunes to life.
Vasudeva, who performed at JJ Valaya’s show at India Couture Week earlier in July, synced melodically to the designer’s original embroidered sarees and belted sherwanis. Reminiscent of Valaya’s ‘Alma’ season collection, which means ‘soul’ in Spanish, the story behind each piece was inspired across Spain in traditional motifs, floral hairdos, dresses matadors in short jackets, the motifs on the manton shawl or the patterns of the hand fan called pericon heavily interwoven with Indian craft techniques and embroidery. For this recital, Vasudeva rewrote the scores of the great Spanish pianist, composer Isaac Manuel Francisco Albéniz y Pascual, one of the leading composers of the post-Roman era, known for his piano works based on the idioms of Spanish folk music.
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Designer Dolly J, who introduced live jazz singer Shreya Bhattacharya, dressed in a custom dress and red lips, is keen to complement her design philosophy in rich western silhouettes and embroidery -Indian rugs, also feel that fashion shows are a visual statement of beauty and ideology. brand. The arrangement at the show was all red and dramatic, and tables were set up like a cafe in Paris. “Live singing sets the mood, and music has the power to transport the audience to a different point in time. Our singer brought the real experience of a New York jazz bar from the 90s, fully immersed in the glamorous nostalgia of the time. The music emphasizes the cycle that accompanies it, it ebbs and flows with every movement, and in doing so it produces complexity. the dress We wanted to celebrate the beauty of the show and the overall experience with our set and sound for the evening,” said Dolly J.
All ready for more
The level of entertainment goes to a high level with interesting art and set design. Puma returned to New York Fashion Week in September this year with a ‘Futrograde’ show that mixes fashion, music and sport. The exhibition looked at the heritage of the brand mixing physical and digital elements and showcasing the Puma family through collaborations and special looks.
“Returning to fashion week for the first time in many years is important to us because we knew we needed the right mix of factors to be present. With an emphasis on digital, a great line up of ambassadors and an amazing creative partner in June Ambrose, the foundation and creativity for a great show is there. And we’re excited that maybe now is the time for us to bring it to life,” said Adam Petrick, Puma’s chief brand officer.
On an average, all the glitz and glamour, over 30-50 ensembles, music and ramp design can cost from €30 lakh to `1 crore depending on the designers’ budget. However, set design is like a work of art that transforms the space into something immersive and beautiful. It can be used to evoke emotion, illusion or thought. Runway set design can be as creative as designers want to be.
“It can be someone who tries to imagine situations or bring someone else’s philosophy to life and apply it. Scenic, theatrical and stage design are all different terms used to describe set design. But the most important thing is that it should be functional for the purpose it serves. Today designers use technology like lighting, graphics, multimedia effects,” says Mahesh Kumar Sharma, who has designed sets for the past 20 years for designers like Sabyasachi, JJ Valaya, Tarun Tahiliani, Suneet Varma, Anju Modi, Manish Malhotra, Anamika Khanna and more.
Designers are now taking their shows to places beyond runways to give extra edge and oomph. In the past, American fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff has been putting on great shows making her shows look like gigs. Janelle Monae, Wild Cub and Little Daylight are among a few artists who have taken the mobile stage. But the first one, back in 2012, is still the best so far – the American rapper Theophilus London performed his hit I Stand Alone while models tried – and completely failed – to resist the urge to dance.
Similarly, in May, Chanel’s Cruise 2023 show was staged on a beach in Monte Carlo to present the season’s cruise collection with models walking in Chanel’s monogrammed heels on sand. The look was inspired by the cosmopolitan beach lifestyle of Monaco and Chanel’s history in silhouettes with swimsuits, sequins, and ensembles.
Some of the best breakout performances have stood the test of time by playing live and walking on the street. Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, and Christy Turlington Burns together at Versace’s Fall 1991 catwalk and grooved to George Michael’s Freedom! ‘ 90. Pop star Dua Lipa walked at Versace fall 2021 as well as other famous faces such as Madonna, Elton John and Lady Gaga.
From designer Jeremy Scott, creative director for Moschino presenting his spring/summer 2021 collection in the form of a puppet show, to Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta Moda show celebrating Alta Moda’s 10th anniversary this year, ramp shows are also reporting. The Sicily de Dolce & Gabbana show was a story of ancient Greek theater set to Italian composer Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, a one-act opera from the 19th century.
Meanwhile, designer Rahul Mishra’s wearable art couture in 3D embroidery on billowing silhouettes not only makes him a champion of slow fashion with traditional Indian craftsmanship but also the first Indian designer to appear at Haute Week Couture Paris in 2020. Its interpretations are large and monumental sculpted silhouettes. The Shape of Air, a collection at Couture Fall 2021/22, is a couture recreation showing the Aegean Sea, blue sky through the streets of Santorini. Also, the view of the city, the architecture that is unique to the city, rendered in silk threads like Lego blocks set on top of a volcanic rock is a design perspective and a creative presentation.
Designer Amit Aggarwal, who chose to turn an auditorium inside Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium into a fashion runway for his show at the FDCI India Couture Week 2022, was a spectacular sight to behold. .down the corridor to the sounds of haunting music.
Likewise, Varun Bahl’s show titled ‘New Leaf’ was literally a nature walk with decor and attire bringing elements from the wilderness of the forests – floral beads, rich fabrics, and recycled classic embroidery.
Another was a splash of Indian culture by designer Anju Modi in her bling and floral designs. But this time he brought innovation. The show served as a walk-in ramp for the audience and models, where four sides of the room were used in the backdrop for a screen display of various travel destinations in India. There was no chair to sit down. The audience walked along the ramp covered with rocks, pine trees and ran videos of Kashmir Valley, mountains on the screen with models that looked like an art installation inside the room.
For designers, the choice of celebrities has also changed. From actor Rajkummar Rao and singer Guru Randhawa to actor-director Farhan Akhtar and actress Rashmika Mandana, who alone has over 30 million followers on social media, industry experts are taking advantage of the new age shows for the season.
A post-pandemic perspective
Activities like this have now become a common feature of fashion shows, especially since the pandemic, as fashion houses are thinking of more ways to be creative. Storytelling is another technique that includes set design, couture, and models. Designer duo Falguni and Shane Peacock have collections influenced by rich French tapestries and Renaissance artwork. Therefore, the color palette of the collection ranges from champagne ivory, pale blush, parfait pink, antique rose to metallic stone green, golden gold, and opal whites. Decorated face veils have made women models turn like dolls dressed in opera-and-fairy-tale gowns.
Blame the pandemic for keeping us away from getting involved and putting on live gigs in the last couple of years, corporate fashion shows are now a welcome change for the fraternity, upping the fun and glamor quotient and in addition, restoring customer confidence. “It is true that we have been away from physical exhibitions for more than two years. But live acts are always welcome. With emotion, creativity and
experimentation – all on runways, there is a need for the touch and feel of the product that inspires designers to create more and as a result the customers are happy,” said Sunil Sethi, chairman of the Fashion Design Council of the -India (FDCI), an independent non-profit association of fashion designers.