Art of Fashion

First appearances matter and yes, the book is judged by its cover. In an industry where that translates into six to ten minutes to make the right impression, the pressure is on for designers to showcase their collections in the right light. The story may start with the clothes but it’s the hundreds of decisions designers make leading up to the fashion show that will create the right mood. A magical symphony of makeup, models, lighting, music, props and graphics – just to mention a few – that will help their vision come to life. A good example is Burberry’s Strait-Laced Menswear Spring/Summer 2016 show

The story may start with the clothes but it’s the hundreds of decisions designers make leading up to the fashion show that will create the right mood.

While Kenya has managed to create seamless fashion productions at times, one thing seems to stand out; the runway is predictable and static. Model walks in stage left, stops near the end for photo op and walks back out, stage right. Add to this the social flurry at these events, a couple of smart phones and a whole collection could be looked over in the time it takes to capture the perfect selfie.

If it’s any consolation, the big leagues has been going through a shakeup of their own. This year’s NYFW began chatter on changing up the fashion week staple; reinventing the catwalk. In their case, the model is struggling against the force of social media. Designers have to make the shows exciting and accessible without losing the exclusive and glamorous element of the shows. They’re also considering doing away with the six months wait and focusing on immediate sale. So what are some of the ideas to setting the right ambience to get customers and buyers to get out their credit cards?

Pick an environment that compliments

DVF (Diane von Fürstenberg) decided to showcase her disco-friendly Fall/Winter 2016 collection in her West 14th Street Headquarters instead of the runway. Complete with disco music hits and trending models such as Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner dancing in pieces from the collection, made for a great photo opportunity for guests and media alike. Having the pieces in their elements makes the lifestyle more of a reality. Plus it allows a lot more personality to shine through.

Models Elsa Hosk and Alanna Arrington present 'Disco' creations from the Diane von Furstenberg Fall/Winter 2016 Collection during New York Fashion Week (Photo by Andrew Kelly/ REUTERS)
Models Elsa Hosk and Alanna Arrington present ‘Disco’ creations from the Diane von Furstenberg Fall/Winter 2016 Collection during New York Fashion Week (Photo by Andrew Kelly/ REUTERS)
Model Karlie Kloss during a presentation for the the Diane von Furstenberg Fall/Winter 2016 collection 'Disco' presentation at New York Fashion Week. (Photo by REUTERS/Andrew Kelly)
Model Karlie Kloss during a presentation for the the Diane von Furstenberg Fall/Winter 2016 collection ‘Disco’ presentation at New York Fashion Week. (Photo by REUTERS/Andrew Kelly)

Incorporate Social Media

Live streaming of fashion shows isn’t a new concept, but Instagram (IG) is proving a force to be reckoned with. If it’s on the runway one second it will be broadcasted to millions of people within the next. Tommy Hilfiger first worked with IG for his Fall 2014 collection by inviting 20 influential instagrammers for an ‘InstaMeet’ that would capture the behind the scenes. The brand later debuted the ‘Instagram Pit’ at its NYFW Fall 2016 show providing an opportunity for influential instagrammers to share with their millions of followers without blocking anyone’s view. But the brand doesn’t stop there, it provides runways worth capturing. From water lagoons to Woodstock-inspired grounds, the backdrops to the clothes are extensive and captivating.

Tommy Hilfiger's InstaPit at its Fall 2016 show during New York Fashion Week (Getty Images)
Tommy Hilfiger’s InstaPit at its Fall 2016 show during New York Fashion Week (Getty Images)

It’s Presentation, darling

Runways can prove to be costly productions. That’s why more designers are opting for presentations that used to be considered the emerging designers answer to a limited budgets. The difference is that these have moved away from static pale rooms with still models to a balance of art and fashion. It takes the audience member away from the formal seating with predictable routine to an air of intrigue about what the designer has in store for them.

It takes the audience member away from the formal seating with predictable routine to an air of intrigue about what the designer has in store for them.

London Fashion Week designer, Faustine Steinmetz, has perfected this art. Her models were contained in different coloured boxes for the AW16. These boxes allowed the guests to peer into them to view the collections on the models. It was different, a little absurd and definitely got people talking long after the showcase. Her personal touch was evident from the clothes to the set design.

Faustine Steinmetz collaborated with set designer Thomas Petherick to present her unique vision. (Photo by Jim Turnbull-Walter)
Faustine Steinmetz collaborated with set designer Thomas Petherick to present her unique vision. (Photo by Jim Turnbull-Walter)
Final presentation of Faustine Steinmetz LFW collection (Photographed by Jim Turnbull-Walter)
Final presentation of Faustine Steinmetz LFW collection (Photographed by Jim Turnbull-Walter)
(Photographed by Jim Turnbull-Walter)
(Photographed by Jim Turnbull-Walter)
(Photographed by Jim Turnbull-Walter)
(Photographed by Jim Turnbull-Walter)
(Photographed by Jim Turnbull-Walter)
(Photographed by Jim Turnbull-Walter)

Givenchy took a more dramatic approach to its Rooftop Presentation. With one thousand guests in attendance on a rooftop in the Big Apple, designer Riccardo Tisci showed his collection which was herald as a powerful tribute to the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Centres, New York. The tribute was used as a reminder on the importance of remaining present. The models performed symbolic scenes in the ready-to-wear collection.

The rooftop runway at Givenchy's spring 2016 show in Manhattan. (Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
The rooftop runway at Givenchy’s spring 2016 show in Manhattan. (Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
(Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
(Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
(Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
(Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

Or go completely digital

For her Spring show, British designer Misha Nonoo, showed her entire collection through a social media platform; IG to be specific. She explained in an interview with the Business of Fashion, “It’s a way to be authentic and speak to people.” Before embracing the social media platform, it used to aggravate the designer that guests or fashionistas would be on their phone during the entire illustration. She however realised that they were sharing and tagging her in photos reaching their millions of followers; increasing her social media following. Since more people are experiencing events more digitally, she decided to take the leap into the ‘Instashow’. Not only did it kick up her Instagram impressions to over 15 million, but it also increased her e-commerce site traffic for her pre-order collection as well as her ready-to-purchase  collections.

Misha Nonoo’s Insta-show launched during New York Fashion Week in September 2015. (Image via @mishanonoo_show on Instagram)
Misha Nonoo’s Insta-show launched during New York Fashion Week in September 2015. (Image via @mishanonoo_show on Instagram)

Whether it’s a private viewing at the railway museum or intricately planned social media campaign, there are two important elements that should be considered. The first being the need to keep it consumer-centred. And the latter being creating an experience that will keep the audience talking, retweeting and most of all, shopping.

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