Once upon a time, fashion shows were small affairs reserved for paying customers and the upper echelons of the fashion press. Now, hundreds can attend and snap away on their phones with no intention of ever purchasing what appears on the runway. Competition has always been rife among designers, but with the social media frenzy that now exists around Fashion Month, there’s more rivalry than ever. And what better way to garner attention than by turning your show into a performance art piece?
Unlike Chanel’s elaborate airport and supermarket settings, performance art shows aim to tell a story rather than simply create a spectacle. Some turn the traditional fashion show on its head; others are a feat of human endurance that see models fainting after hours of remaining still. Some designers create the artwork themselves; others team up with performance artists known for controversy. All have one thing in common — they provide a sense of stillness to the chaos surrounding the fashion industry.
Yes, John Galliano’s theatrical finale bows and Viktor & Rolf’s Fall 2015 Haute Couture human art gallery were all great to watch, but today’s real magic lies in the show concepts with deeper meanings. These art/fashion pairings are the greatest performance pieces throughout history. Here’s hoping there are plenty more.