Women’s A/W 16/17 Catwalk Show Spaces: Trends & Highlights
With the commercial scope of the once industry-only catwalk presentations increasing in line with an uptick in live-streaming and direct-to-consumer catwalk commerce, the runway spaces themselves hold ever-richer relevance. Offering a wealth of marketable visual merchandising ideas, we review the key visual themes to emerge from the A/W 16/17 ready-to-wear catwalks.
Twisted Fairy Tales and Fragile Times
- One of the biggest spatial trends of the season centred on familiar fairy tale motifs, trading on the distinctly darker underbelly of traditional narratives.
- Dolce & Gabbana presented the most literal interpretation of the theme, complete with apple tree, carriage and looking glass featuring the epithet "Who is the most beautiful?"
- Apt for a season preoccupied by the unprecedented changes being wrought by the rapid march of new technology, some brands played on the theme of grandeur in demolition mode. Moschino's runway sat amid the decadent yet dishevelled ruins of a country house vignette, while Erdem's upturned room also strongly alluded to a sense of fragility.
- Ominous woodland scenes were in evidence at Tanya Taylor, Noon by Noor, Thom Browne, Preen, Alberta Ferretti and Rachel Zoe via the classically foreboding symbols of trees and branches, while shadowy projections presented a similar ambience at H&M and (albeit more urbanised) Puma.
Charm of Distortion
Mirrors, particularly those with a fun-house quality, were used to dramatic effect, breeding wildly beautiful yet often unnervingly distorted visuals that delivered intrigue and unease.
- The ecclesiastical setting of Mulberry's show was augmented with towering multi-tier panes of angled mirrors, creating an internal temple of its own.
- A giant cube of warped mirrors, positioned at the centre of a Louvre courtyard in Paris, served as the venue for Dior's show – providing surreal reflections of the iconic environs back onto the temporary structure, melding artifice and architecture.
- Louis Vuitton delivered a similar grandiose ode to refraction and reflection with a futuristic hall of shattered mirrors, spinning multiple images of the models' garments as they walked the runway. See our full blog post for more on Vuitton's extreme setting.
See The Thrill of Illusion in Sensory Brand Spaces: Illusion, Disruption & Reaction for more on how using disrupted, sometimes aesthetically jarring designs drive a new understanding of the age-old retail mantra of surprise and delight.
Playing on another hot topic, the melding of machine with the synthetic and the organic, several designers used technology to augment or fabricate ideas pooled from the natural world, resulting in some dramatically dystopian show spaces.
- Determined fauna desperately emerging from industrial detritus and fluoro tube lighting at Rodarte created an otherworldly, sci-fi-meets-Burning-Man landscape. Minimalistic walkways bathed in glaring coloured light at Philipp Plein tapped into a similar post-apocalyptic aesthetic.
- Digital projections of a moody sunset/full moon skyscape at Thierry Mugler made for a dramatic backdrop, echoed in the rave-y, psychedelic-tinged animal skin-referencing projections at Akris and digitised tribal motifs at Kenzo.
For more on creating spectacle through tech, see Digi-Space: Content & the Society of Spectacle in our coverage of Retail Design Expo 2016.
A perennial fashion show favourite, 3D structures delivered still-useful spatial perimeters for the catwalks, inviting movement beyond the standard linear model walk and providing plenty of ideas for in-store design.
- Christopher Raeburn's relatively low-fi yet bold climbing frame-style construction came with added complexity, thanks to lighting bolstering internal sections with fresh pools of colours.
- A partially rendered complex scaffolding construction at Christopher Kane presented a tough version of the theme – in contrast to the minimalist, scarcely three-dimensional structure at Jasper Conran.
- Giant coloured boxes placed on a gridded floor at Anya Hindmarch delivered a retro-futuristic scene in soft pastel pink and grey hues in which the models looked like dolls.
See also A/W 16/17 Catwalk Communications: Digital Innovations and Fashion Week Beauty Pop-Ups for engagement tactics and new brand spin, and Catwalks for our key product-focused overview.