04 November 2013
The collections are ready, the garments have been stitched, the models are in hair and make-up and the guests are anxiously awaiting the commencement, not of a fashion show but a complete well-rounded display of artistic prowess. The front row is teeming with everyone and anyone whose anyone. Then suddenly, before you know it, the show is over.
It flies right by and (what I hope is at least four months work) is done. It was a success. None of the models tumbled into the front row and the lights did not flicker off as you had feared they would. You mingled and made some contacts and the outcome was favorable. For most designers however, fashioning (pun intended) a memorable show is an unrealised dream.
The perception that a show’s key elements are the clothes, the models, the music and the mood is commonly understood and executed to some extent by designers and creative teams, but do local creatives and designers lend the same attention to the finer detail of their shows as other fashion houses do?
Consider Comme des Garçons’ most recent show: every look marched to its own signature tune — whether it was a snippet from a Fred Astaire movie or the sound of a crackling wood-fire— each soundtrack was used to communicate the idea that each piece was idiosyncratic and stood on its own. “In a movie, you have someone who can push the plot along verbally, but with fashion, music and clothes are your whole plot,” says Rene Arsenault — who has worked on soundtracks for Tom Ford since his time at Gucci — on the importance of music to seasonal runway shows.
The concept of these ‘fashion soundtracks’ is by no means a new one, many of fashion’s top sound designers have longstanding relationships with the designers with whom they’ve collaborated. Michael Gaubert, for instance, first began working with Karl Lagerfeld in the early 1990s. “The relationship with a designer has to be personal to understand clearly the world in their head, everything that influences the collection,” says Javier Peral, who creates soundtracks for Jason Wu and Carolina Herrera.
The authentic fashion show experience is one that demands more from it’s designers than sending a model onto a runway with a product hanging from their shoulders accompanied by music from the Top 40 charts. “Now, anyone with an internet connection and a sense of discovery is going to be able to find music. It’s just what you filter out and what you keep and put into a playlist that is the difference between people that are successful at designing fashion soundtracks and people that aren’t”, Arsenault asserts.
Generally, designers don’t use black models, but that’s an entirely different discussion. It can be said however, that the criteria designers use when in search of models for their shows has changed drastically over the years, for the better. Although, selecting the 1’84 aesthetically appeasing model is safe, we can’t really criticize what has and will probably continue to work for centuries. To be sure unconventional model choices can carry the adverse effect of distracting the guests (and streaming viewers at home if the designer has thought that far ) from the product itself. That is one reason why producing a top fashion show is a craft that requires as equal a measure of attention as creating the collection itself does.