Jennifer Lopez setting the internet ablaze – again – with a certain Versace dress wasn’t the only note-worthy collaboration powering the Italian label’s S/S 2020 ready-to-wear womenswear show. The genesis of Google Images traces back to a torrent of searches for the celebrity wearing a version of the jungle-print garment in 2000: to spatially revisit the viral milestone, the Italian label partnered with the tech leader to design the latest Versace set using its VR painting app Tilt Brush.

Set design and production is an essential part of any fashion show, being a powerful way for designers and companies to communicate brand values and drive the story behind each collection home. That makes these spaces especially valuable today, when exposure is at its highest: Instagram’s fashion community gives front row views in real-time – people anywhere can tune in to shows, like the below in New York City, London, Milan and Paris, without delay. This means sets aren’t temporary anymore. The spaces can be visually referenced whenever, by whoever, with the potential to command and keep a digital audience’s attention for a brand as skilfully as J.Lo did nearly two decades ago with a single Versace dress.


Inspired by M.C. Escher’s Metamorphis III mural designed 50 years ago for The Hague Post Office, accessories designer Anya Hindmarch turned to maze and puzzle designer Adrian Fisher for the building of an immersive art installation and exhibition dedicated to the launch of her Postbox bag in London. Within the tessellated Postbox Maze (cover image), members of the public discovered recordings produced with Letters Live and a gallery of curiosities loaned by The Postal Museum.


Balenciaga’s bold, spiralled S/S 2020 Paris runway by La Mode en Images was a clear-cut spatial reference to the European Parliament’s Chambers in Brussels and Strasbourg. Its curtained and carpeted surfaces were dominated by blue, and the audience watched the show from tiered seating – the space symbolized the concept behind the collection, which creative director Demna Gvasalia designed as a commentary on power in society.


Chanel runways are never short of fantasy: this time, the fashion house took to Paris by rooftop. Zinc surfaces, walkways, chimney pots and skylight windows were installed in the historic museum Grand Palais, where Chanel shows have been held since 2005. ‘The roofs of Paris remind me of the atmosphere of the Nouvelle Vague,’ explains artistic director Virginie Viard. ‘I saw silhouettes walking on the roofs ­– I thought about Kristen Stewart playing Jean Seberg and all the actresses Gabrielle Chanel dressed at that time.’

Photo: Olivier Saillard

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Creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri envisioned an ‘inclusive garden’ for the Dior S/S 2020 set, according to a spokesperson. The plant-filled scenography was designed in collaboration with Coloco, a team of landscapers, urban planners, botanists, gardeners and artists ‘committed to the collective art of cultivating gardens as a driver of urban inclusiveness.’ Each tree that appeared in the Bureau Betak-produced show at Hippodrome Paris Longchamp will be a part of future long-term projects.


The set that OMA*AMO devised for Prada offset the industrial character of Fondazione Prada’s Deposito building in Milan with high-gloss coloured ceramic tiles laid in intricately geometric patterns for the models to follow. Each show-goer entered the warmly-lit space by ascending a specially installed stepped platform that served as a balcony and belvedere, giving a panoramic view of the room.

Photo: A.Osio


To debut the fall 2019 TommyXZendaya collection – which takes cues from ‘70s and ‘80s era power dressing – designer Tommy Hilfiger set up a runway at New York City’s Apollo Theater in Harlem. Located outside the legendary music hall, it was built like a city block in the neighbourhood, with brownstone building façades and classic cars. A VR experience allowed users to buy from the collection on the spot.


Marni’s S/S 2020 Act II Milan show follows a first presented in June during the city's menswear fashion week. For this following act, German artist Judith Hopf was asked to use her interpretation of upcycling to design the set, curated by creative director Francesco Risso. Artificial palm trees made from PET polymers – obtained from plastic waste from the men’s show – were installed, and cardboard elements and paints were sustainably sourced.


At Paris’ Trocadéro – Saint Laurent’s usual outdoor location – 414 bright-white lights made for the high-contrast, Bureau Betak-designed catwalk, with the luminous Eiffel Tower as a backdrop. All of the energy consumed at the night event was produced by renewable means; biofuel was used to power the required generators.