Every year, there are certain fashion events that generate a seemingly radioactive amount of buzz. Invitations are coveted and attendees’ plan their outfits well in advance, much in the way one would approach a well-choreographed military operation. Though from year to year, the names of new and up-and-coming designers in the fashion flock may fluctuate, there are a certain number of fixed shows generating this buzz consistently year after year.
Many, if not most of these buzz-worthy events take place during the well-attended International Fashion Weeks, which take place in various cities around the world. Every year, it seems that another city in yet another country has hopped-on the bandwagon. What once started with the core locations for the fashion industry in New York, Paris, London, and Milan now reaches as far as countries like Singapore, Australia, Korea, and South Africa.
The variety inherent in this spreading of global fashion and the excitement it generates can simply not be denied. There are however, a few shows during Fashion Week that undoubtedly act as inspiration to everyone in the industry no matter where on the globe they may call home. The following two shows are the current undisputed leaders in the industry that have proven themselves over time, and continue to be some of the most talked-about and highly-anticipated shows out there.
Under the direction of the prolific, if not legendary Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel has been, and continues to be one of the most highly-coveted fashion shows of any show in all of the International Fashion Weeks combined. To sit in the audience at a Chanel fashion show, one cannot help but feel that he or she is witness to fashion history in the making.
The audience is always a consistent display of the fashion house’s classic and timeless designs; a veritable living museum to Lagerfeld’s skilful interpretation of Coco Chanel’s affinity for bouclÃ© tweed and sportswear influences abound. To add to the iconic nature of the clothes themselves is the size and theatrical impact of the actual shows. Lagerfeld does not do half-measures when it comes to showing his collections.
Lagerfeld’s most recent Spring/Summer 2014 show was a very large-scale, visceral, and irreverent nod to the world of modern art. Oversized objets d’art were scattered throughout the runway area, all having been “Chanelified” somehow; even some of the models carried outsized Chanel “portfolios”, in reference to the art students often seen in cities across the globe. However, perhaps what was most spellbinding about Lagerfeld’s latest brainchild, is the fact that despite the large, colourful, irreverent, and quite frankly potentially distracting displays of “modern art” scattered about the runway, none of it diminished the impact of the clothes; a balance of visual elements that surely lets you know that you are in the presence of greatness.
Some of Lagerfeld’s other mind-blowingly high-concept runway shows have included an oversized working carousel from Fall/Winter 2008-2009, and the recreation of a full-scale hay barn for Spring/Summer 2010 that not only used enough real hay to feed a pasture-full of stock, it also housed a hidden rising platform from which rocker and Chanel ambassador Lilly Allen rose during the show for a command performance.
What Lagerfeld’s influence is to theatrics and its impact on the marketing of Chanel’s global brand image, Miuccia Prada’s influence is to street style, magazine editorial content, and perhaps most influentially, the overall direction of things to come. In fashion circles, it is often said that “where Miuccia goes, fashion follows.” This was perhaps no more evident than in her collection for Spring/Summer 2011, in which she appeared on the runway at the end of the show sporting a pair of resin banana earrings. Street-style divas and fashion press alike went mad for these small, Josephine Baker-inspired pieces of whimsy, and they were soon thereafter spotted dangling from the earlobes of the fashion elite all over the world, so undeniable is the Prada influence.
More recently, Prada’s Tail Lights pumps for the Spring 2012 collection created a similar sensation. The pumps mixed a 1950’s automotive framework with feminine details and futuristic materials to culminate in what became one of the season’s biggest must-have items for the fashion pack.
Prada, who holds a Doctorate degree in political sciences, has always taken a cerebral approach to fashion, taking iconic and emblematic bits of modern culture and subverting them, pushing her art form as far as she is willing to go. This fearless approach has landed her quite a following over the years, and in April of 2005 she appeared on Time Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century.
To date, Prada remains one of the most influential designers in the fashion industry, and her shows are anticipated with such energy and suspense, it is tantamount to the winning of the Golden Ticket Ã la Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Luckily for those who love to follow the movement of the industry from one season to the next, she shows no signs of slowing down.