When I read that the latest McQueen collection was shown in a morgue I felt a bit awkward. So many reasons as to why this location for this label would be wrong instantly sprung to mind. But then fashion is all about dramatics and the late Alexander McQueen would probably of pushed the stylish fashion boat even further than Sarah Burton and chosen an actual graveyard. But what is with this latest trend to catwalk in the most peculiar of places?
The best in the business are showing some real consideration in making their runway destination somewhere bizarre, uncomfortable and totally unrelated to fashion. A few weeks ago Versus chose to show their latest collection in a gym hall. The floor was laid out like a basketball court, lines painted in pastel tones and the start of the show signified by a shrill whistle blow plus the sound of balls bouncing. Go team fashion! This never seen before setting is not completely crazy as garments shown included sheer drawstring trousers and racer tops. But a gym is still a place of sweat, weight loss and cellulite. With the beautiful clothes being shown to a beautiful audience in a location that has some not so pretty relations, there is a high risk that the unglamourous surrounding could cast an unfair judgment to a critic or client’s opinion. Does an audience want to sit is a place that is possibly realistic or relatable to something that is far away from the blasé world of fashion. To many women a gym is hellish place which shows you have identified a bodily imperfection. For example, where would the next location for a catwalk be, a plastic surgery operating theatre?
Another fashionable fan of the out of the ordinary is the fabulous Dame Vivienne Westwood. She has held a show in the rather avant-garde setting of an old meat market. Front row fans included Pamela Anderson, who is a spokesperson for animal rights charity PETA and lives a very public vegan lifestyle. Anderson did not speak about her opinion on the location, however the setting goes against all that she campaigns for.
Another place that might cause debate as to whether it is suitable or not is the Royal Albert Hall. It has hosted large fashion events, such as Fashion Rocks in which designers including Stella McCartney show their clothes accompanied by live music. But should a historical landmark not built for any runway purposes be used in this manner. Although it is not an outrageous location, it is still a respected building, rich in British history that some might be offended by in using it as a setting for a overly sexed up fashion show.
I do support the idea of thinking outside of the fashion box, but I think catwalk settings must be considered with intense analysis. The way we see the clothes without question is affected by the surrounding in which they are presented to us in. A meat market will not appeal to a vegan, a gym will not appeal to a person with weight issues and a morgue might not appeal to a recently deceased family member. I encourage designers to play with props and locations that enhance their clothing, fashion should push all boundaries, but please do not underestimate your surroundings for a catwalk.