In the world of fashion, where creativity and innovation rule high, set design plays an important role in improving the overall impact of a fashion show. Architects collaborate with set designers to create visually stunning and engaging environments that suit and improve the show. These carefully constructed sets not only serve as a backdrop but also add to the entire brand image, storytelling, and mood. In this article, we will look at how architects design stunning sets for fashion shows and review some of the most memorable fashion show set design examples.

The Art of Set Design for Fashion Shows

Fashion show set design is an art form that requires a unique combination of creativity, technical expertise, and a thorough understanding of the brand’s concept. Set designers work closely with fashion designers to adapt their ideas and stories into tangible environments that capture the imagination of the audience. 

Here are the 4 key elements of the set design process:

  1. Concept Development: Set designers to work together with fashion designers to learn about the collection’s concept, inspiration, and mood. They brainstorm ideas, draw them out, and design concepts consistent with the brand’s look and vision.
  2. Space Planning: A fashion show’s setup has a significant impact on the audience’s experience. Set designers examine the length, width, and shape of the runway, as well as the location of seating arrangements. They systematically position the set components to maximise audiences’ visibility and interaction.
  3. Material Selection: Set designers pick materials carefully to bring their idea to life while balancing the clothing line. Every component, from fabrics and lighting fixtures to props and visual components, is carefully chosen to produce an overall and visually appealing design.
  4. Lighting and Sound Design: Lighting and sound are key components of fashion show set design. Set designers work with lighting and sound specialists to create an immersive environment that complements the runway. Dynamic lighting effects and expertly picked music to add to the collection’s ambience and narrative.

Memorable Examples of Fashion Show Set Design

Fashion show set design has the ability to take audiences into fantasy worlds, increasing the impact of the designs on display. Set designers to create awe-inspiring landscapes that precisely correspond with the brand’s vision. From Chanel’s converted airport terminal to Alexander McQueen’s ethereal garden, The whirling carousel by Louis Vuitton and the mesmerising mirror maze by Dior combine art and technology to leave a lasting impression on visitors. These examples point out how set design can improve the runway experience by adding an immersive element and improving the storytelling part of fashion shows.

Chanel’s Airport Terminal

Set Design for Fashion Shows: Creating Visually Striking and Innovative Runway Experiences - Sheet1
Chanel Spring 2016 Ready-to-Wear Fashion Show _©Vogue

Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel’s late creative director, transformed the Grand Palais in Paris into a stunning airport terminal for the brand’s Spring/Summer 2016 presentation. The set concept, which comprised a check-in counter, departure boards, and a sleek runway, perfectly complemented the collection’s theme of travel and desire.

Alexander McQueen’s Romantic Garden

Set Design for Fashion Shows: Creating Visually Striking and Innovative Runway Experiences - Sheet2
Flowers and Irish field trips on the runway at Alexander McQueen _©WWD/Rex/Shutterstock

Set designer Es Devlin built a crazy and lovely garden within the Paris Opéra Garnier for Alexander McQueen’s Fall/Winter 2019 show. Lush vegetation, moss-covered walls, and a misty mist create the tone for a collection inspired by nature, romance, and magic. The set design flawlessly reflected the brand’s DNA and gave the runway experience a strange touch.

Louis Vuitton’s Carousel

Set Design for Fashion Shows: Creating Visually Striking and Innovative Runway Experiences - Sheet3
The fashion merry-go-round at Louis Vuitton _©Chris Moore/Karl Prouse

For its Spring/Summer 2021 show, Louis Vuitton collaborated with set designer Es Devlin to create a captivating spectacle. Models moved around a carousel covered with huge fashion items, providing a sense of movement and dynamism. The set design brilliantly combined fashion, art, and technology, providing the audience with a lasting impression.

Dior’s Mirror Maze

Maria Grazia Chiuri Creates Her Hall of Mirrors at Dior _©Vogue

The stage design for the Dior Spring 2018 collection housed an immense set created for the event in the centre of the Musée Rodin’s grounds. Designer Maria Grazia Chiuri was inspired by art—specifically, female artists—for this season’s collection, and the message rang loud and clear as you entered the metallic cave, built of a mosaic of mirrors.

Set design has become an important part of the fashion show experience, improving the overall experience and creating memorable moments for both the audience and the brand. Set designers and architects work together with fashion designers to realise their concepts by considering spatial planning, material selection, lighting, and sound design. Set designers contribute to the storytelling and improve the brand’s identity through their unique and aesthetically spectacular creations. The images above, ranging from Chanel’s airport terminal to Alexander McQueen’s romantic garden, indicate the significant impact of set design on the success and enduring impression of fashion shows. As fashion evolves, we may expect even more breathtaking set designs that push the bounds of innovation and fascinate us with their beauty.

Author

An exceptional civil engineer, combines her innate writing prowess with technical expertise. As a Content Writer at CreativeHub, she crafts captivating SEO-friendly blogs, insightful case studies, and visually stunning newsletters. Engaged in the RTF Architectural Writing Training Programme, she eagerly unleashes her voice and bold ideas upon the world.