The Mirrored Runway

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Dries Van Noten
Women’s Ready-to-Wear 
A/W 2015


Imagine going back in time - hundreds of years - as a merchant navigating the labyrinth of fabric stalls at a souk or a market.  Smell the dirt; caress the fibres and the textures; absorb the earthy tones with your eyes.  You are swimming in the luxuries of the world; linens, jacquards, furs and hairs.  Organza; brocade; whatever you like.  You want silk?  This stall alone  is piled high with aubergine, khaki, navy, and copper - like butter to the touch - among the most glamorous patterns from the Orient and the Far East.

     Now, travel back into the present, the year 2015, bringing all of these sensations with you.  Here they are, and here you are, sitting front and centre at the Dries Van Noten runway show in Paris.  With each passing second, the memories of the souk are fading; the mind is scrambling to hold on to those visions of the past, but as the first model steps onto the catwalk in Van Noten’s autumn winter collection, there is no struggle to remember the souk.  Everything from the past - every fabric, every pattern, every colour - is right there in front of you in Dries Van Noten’s ready-to-wear collection.  It is artisanal, luxurious, rich, and down-to-earth all at once.  The entire venue is enraptured by the surreal, fairy-tale ambiance of the show that this Belgian designer has expressed through his chosen fabrics, lighting, and colours.  He has clearly drawn on, as fairytales do, enchanting fragments of history to create a new modern aesthetic and a sense of nostalgia.

     Indeed, the ebb and flow of history being reinvented in Van Noten’s latest collection is palpable even across a computer screen, through which the majority of the world is admiring from afar.  For this particular reason, it is sensible to conclude that the most successful runway collections, in the eyes of the general population, are the ones that are the most visually intriguing and interactive in their digital forms since only a small percentage of viewers will in fact be seeing the runway show live.  

     That being said, should we be questioning the monetary output currently required to put a physical runway show together?  Yes, the live runway show itself still plays a significant role in the promotion and artistic expression of a fashion label, however; after booking the extravagant venue, hiring the celebrity models, and creating a visually attractive show, the designer is financially in the ground.  So as the world becomes more heavily dependent on Internet media, does it not make sense to focus a greater percentage of the budget on broadcasting the show to the world and less of a percentage on appealing to the niche audience in attendance?  Much of the creative world would argue that a runway show is the greatest form of artistic expression for a designer, therefore all aspects of the show are necessary regardless of the expense, but the digital age is forcing us to consider this dilemma.  The question that must be answered is how much importance designers should place on the digital streaming of their runway shows in the future.

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