Changing the Fashion Format

A look at the showcasing of fashion over the years.

Current high fashion is all about being the most memorable, the most cutting edge, and the most unique in both their presentation and clothing. However, fashion shows have not always been this way. As DuJour News states, fashion shows were initially created during the early 1800s to bring buyers in. Instead of having the main goal be to showcase designers’ work, most fashion shows were private events with low publicity surrounding them so as to keep companies’ trade secrets, a secret. Since that time, fashion shows have transformed into elaborate productions with the goal of promoting the brand via social media and broadcasted shows.

Recently, Kenzo paired with H&M to create a unique runway show. With dancers, MCs, brass players, and the usual slew of fantastic models, Kenzo and H&M truly showcased how fun fashion can be. With H&M, a consumer focused brand, Kenzo is able to widen the audience that sees their work. That pairing, mixed with Kenzo’s history of extravagant shows that generally incorporated multiple art forms, makes this showcasing of fashion unique.

Photographer: Mariah Crabb

Photographer: Mariah Crabb

However, this over-the-top performance can also be read as gimmicky. GQ used the phrase “[i]t was lit” to describe the show, a phrase that would never be used to describe other high fashion lines. That being said, this phrase is popular amongst the general H&M buyer demographic, teens to early 20s, so this atypical or casual phrasing by GQ can be perceived as appropriate in that sense.

Kenzo has been introducing multiple art forms into their shows since the ‘70s with stars as big as Grace Jones being a part of these first performances. In that respect, this over-the-top display should be expected, and yet they still stand out in how their shows are run when compared to other designer brands.

When thinking of the great names in the world of fashion designers, many people can identify Dior, Chanel, or Louis Vuitton. These shows stick to the more stereotypical views of how fashion shows usually run. For Dior’s Spring 2017 Ready-To-Wear line, they had an exceptionally simple setting for their show with white walls, rough wooden benches for their audience to sit in, and a simple brown catwalk. These simplistic elements helped to showcase the art that was on display, instead of possibly detracting from it.

Because these brands are well-established, they seem to prefer minimal sets so that the audience can focus on the clothing. For example, Chanel uses bright colors in their clothing, but usually keeps their backdrops and choice of venue open with neutral colors to showcase their beautiful fabrics. For Louis Vuitton’s Spring/Summer line for 2016, they chose to set their show in a space that had a warehouse feel. With exposed, poured cement walls and raw cement flooring, they forced the eye to focus on their unique silhouettes. This was also the case for Dior who had predominantly white and black as their clothing color scheme, but still utilized a neutral environment to bring the clothing to the forefront.

Fashion is one of the most fluid industries that exists today.

Kenzo’s performance format has yet to reach some of the typically considered high-fashion brands, and yet it has started to enter into the world of direct consumerism with brands that people see on the street everyday. One of the best examples of this is Victoria’s Secret’s yearly fashion show. With huge names in the modeling industry to showcase their clothing and popular singers such as Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez, they are able to appeal to large masses of people. Instead of simply a fashion show, they have created a yearly event that LA Times recorded having over 9 million people tune in to watch.

Fashion is one of the most fluid industries that exists today. This industry is always changing as different brands compete to be the most innovative and popular, making it impossible to predict what these shows will look like in the next five, 10 or 15 years. However, the simplistic approaches to fashion shows have withstood the test of time. As these new shows that meld fashion with pop culture start to emerge and become more popular amongst everyday consumers, it will be interesting to see how this affects the fashion industry. Perhaps this introduction of music, dance and whatever else they can think up is what will take these shows to the next level.