Fashion and Lighting, 5 latest Shows That Surprised Us

Baroque or minimal, icy or Gothic: lighting reveals much about a runway show, playing a crucial role in highlighting the features of a collection.



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Light in prêt-à-porter fashion: cold, warm, golden, enveloping, metallic, icy, orange-tinted, simulating dawn, a dystopian future, a trend incubator. Fashion and light create a visionary experience. The lighting at runway shows profoundly influences our perception. Lighting designers work at the heart of the onstage experience, creating a particular atmosphere and showcasing each piece at its best.

Sometimes lighting is purely aesthetic, crafted to weave enchantment; other times, it’s more technical, technological, and functional. Shining a spotlight on today’s runway looks and tomorrow’s window displays. Recent seasons have seen these elements transform into little masterpieces of expertise.

How Lighting Designers Revolutionized Runway Shows

Fashion history teaches us. With groundbreaking lighting, a runway show is not just a show but an immersive bath. Take Alexander McQueen’s The Overlook from 1999, a Gothic mood with flashes of white light referencing the film Shining. Or Dior, which in 1998 introduced LED lights into the set design and even the outfits for the first time. More recent fashion shows have also memorably utilized lighting to tell their stories.

Blumarine, a Fiery B

Blumarine’s formal elegance found a setting of explosive contrasts in the Fall/Winter 2023 fashion show. The lighting struck hard, enveloping the setting for Blumarine: a dark medieval battlefield with ruins, moss, earthen ground, and especially a fiery B at the centre, lighting up a torch logo on the collection.

Creative director Nicola Brognano drew inspiration from the 1999 film The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc for a dark, historical atmosphere, sprinkled with Tomb Raider vibes. Spectators wrapped in shadow watched as the fire and moss transported them back to the early 2000s, revived by cuts and shapes that contemporized the Y2K aesthetic, gloriously overcoming twenty years of minimalism.

1. Blumarine - Courtesy of firstVIEW

Viktor&Rolf Spring/Summer 2023: The Super Chandelier

Viktor&Rolf’s avant-garde luxury appeal shone through with directional lighting in the Spring/Summer 2023 runway show, memorable also for breaking proportions and linearity with “dramatic ball gowns” expanding horizontally or sliced in half. An oversized Baroque chandelier dominated the dimness while beams of directed light highlighted the creativity of the dresses. In the solemn setting of the Sorbonne, the play of lights, swinging between the architectural element of the chandelier and targeted LEDs, emphasized every detail of this surprising collection, from the use of tulle to the anomalous, iconoclastic cuts of the garments.

2. Viktor&Rolf - Courtesy of firstVIEW

Undercover Spring/Summer 2024: Tulle Chandeliers

A hybrid of streetwear and punk, the Japanese brand Undercover loves playing with contrasts, and in this runway show of antithesis, fashion and light were the focal points. The emotional pathogenesis of darkness and light united the looks of the défilé with the surrounding shadows. On the ground, like angels fallen from heaven, large crystal chandeliers covered with black tulle sheets. 

3. Undercover - Courtesy of firstVIEW

In a Tim Burton-esque film set, these lit a warm, retro light on the runway of composed pastel street looks, with organza volumes, maxi face prints, bright yellows, and black tulle inserts reminiscent of the veils on the chandeliers. Closing the show, three illuminated dresses, like lampshades. A lampshade skirt with a terrarium of roses and butterflies, a dreamy and unpredictable exit.

4. Undercover - Courtesy of firstVIEW

Acne Studio Spring/Summer 2024: The Disco Ball 

What would the world look like if we viewed it through the light of a giant disco ball smashed against a corner of the set, with countless luminous fragments scattered across the floor? Acne Studio’s fashion and light-themed collection is all about refraction: born whole yet simultaneously breaking into a thousand pieces. Matrix-ready-to-wear softened by tailoring style. The impactful idea, among the examples of lighting in runway shows, is from Austrian artist Lukas Gschwandtner, whose cumbersome shattered ball focuses attention on a collection that celebrates freedom and unruliness. 

Carpets and scattered cushions soften the atmosphere, while panels of white light cast sharp rays on the fashion show. On the runway crisp colours, surgical shapes, and shield-style sunglasses parade. Plenty of greys, whites, purples, and some tulle intersections; bags resembling briefcases. For the Scandinavian brand, light is the path to formal cleanliness and stylistic freedom.

5. Acne Studio - Courtesy of firstVIEW

Miu Miu Spring/Summer 2024: Storm 2.0

Panels of light in various colours, from optical white to delicate lilac, and thunderous sounds accompany the fashion and light duo at Miu Miu’s runway show, which also utilized spotlights to fully express the contemporaneity of the collection in a classical colonnade setting. The experience was designed by artist Sophia Al-Maria, who conjured the eye of a storm.

6. Miu Miu - Courtesy of firstVIEW

The runway shows advanced concepts like expressive freedom, aesthetic complexity, the impossibility of linearity, and individualism. All this is integrated into an environment where the sound of thunder and the flashing panels narrate a woman in a storm. A storm of digital stimuli and references, where light merges with the collection to help find one’s stylistic path.

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