The spectacle of a fashion show isn’t just about the clothes — they’re also the runway that the models walk on. From flower meadows to sand-and-plaster floors, Paris Fashion Week transported guests to another world.
In every runway collection designed, creative directors have a message to convey, a concept to explore, or an idea to share to the world. Through the visual details of the collection, these sentiments are communicated from the stitching of the clothes to the shade of lipstick a model should wear for their ensemble. To drive the meaning home, fashion houses set the tone for their runway shows with a set design that compliments their collection’s concept.
The Paris Fashion Week spring/summer 2024 runway shows are no exception. This season, designers presented their collections with dramatic, theatrical, and literally groundbreaking runway set designs.
Courrèges’ Groundbreaking Runway
When Courrèges’ guests received their invitation, they also got a preview of the spring/summer 2024 runway. Made from the same plaster as the invitations that guests had to break open, models walked the perimeter of the sand-and-plaster quadrangle that cracked beneath their feet. To create the dramatic effect, the flooring was underlaid with inflated fireman hoses that deflated in time with the music. The collection broke through barriers as well, reimagining the brand’s signature geometric shapes and challenging traditional fashion norms.
Louis Vuitton’s Hot Air Balloon
Located at their new building on the Champs-Élysées, Louis Vuitton went back to their house’s origin in travel by transporting attendees into a venue draped in orange plastic, imitating the inside of a hot air balloon. This set an adventurous mood for the runway, which featured an equally adventurous collection that stitched together silhouettes and looks with influences from the 19th century and 1950s to 80s fashion styles.
Valentino’s Celebration of Femininity
Valentino made a statement by expressing their support for women’s freedom. Designer Pierpaolo Picciolo shared that he was dismayed by the pushback on women’s rights under Giorgia Meloni’s administration in Italy. He shared, “The worst thing is, the government has said to girls ‘be careful what you wear.’ I think that feminism is the freedom of women to be who they are. Even to expose the body, and say no.”
In line with this sentiment, Picciolo showed a “celebration of femininity and creativity,” and set the models to walk on a runway with nude sculptures of women. British singer FKA Twigs also performed her dance act, “Unearth Her” while contemporary dancers performed in boxes filled with sand and debris.
Rick Owens’ Pink And Yellow Fog
At Palais de Tokyo, models walked through neon pink and yellow tinted fog for Rick Owen’s spring/summer 2024 collection. The effect was otherworldly, especially with some of the models wearing black contact lenses that covered the whites of their eyes. Owens shared that he was inspired by Icelandic artist Björk, whose concert he attended a few weeks before the runway show took place. “She expressed hope,” he said. “I suppose I express resignation. My default setting is to propose a more sombre sobriety respectful of an ailing and struggling world observing a war.”
Undercover’s Illuminated Chandeliers
Attendees were in for a surprise with Undercover’s spring/summer 2024 runway show. When the lights dimmed, the tulle-covered chandelier in the middle of the runway lit up, and three models emerged from the darkness wearing glowing terrarium dresses. From a distance, the light emanating from the strapless dresses’ skirts seemed to be image projections — until you get a closer look and see the butterflies moving inside it.
The show reflected creative director Jun Takahashi’s personal feelings. He shared that he was grieving for people he was close to. Through his translator, he said, “He feels like he’s stuck in the world, but he wants to release himself.”
Hermès’ Summery Meadow
“An impromptu picnic” was what Hermès’ creative director Nadège Vanhée had in mind when it came to the setting for their spring/summer 2024 collection. Built within the courtyard of the Garde Républicaine Vanhée, the runway set was a scene full of tall grass, banks of reeds, and flowers. This reflected the collection’s relaxed and luxurious feel, playing into the emerging “quiet luxury” fashion trend.
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