These Are the Best Sets From the A/W19 Shows

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Chanel Autumn/Winter 2019
Chanel Autumn/Winter 2019Photography by Marco Torri

From Chanel’s fantasy ski resort to JW Anderson’s cloud-like carpet, we select eight of the best sets from the past fashion month

Besides receiving a show invitation strategically printed with clues – or in Gucci’s case this season, a blatant declaration of what to expect in the form of a Grecian mask – walking into a show space is often the first indication of what is to come in terms of a new collection. The following eight show sets did just that: from illuminated poetry at Valentino, romantic mood lighting at Prada, and of course Chanel’s recreation of an Alpine winter wonderland. Though erected for such a short amount of time, it’s clear that these sets will remain embedded in the memories of the shows’ attendees for many years to come.

1. Chanel’s Ski Resort (top)

At Karl Lagerfeld’s final show for the house of Chanel, Paris’ Grand Palais was transformed into an Alpine ski resort. And, as was to be expected, the illusion was nothing short of perfection: with ‘smoke’ billowing from the chimneys of quaint chalets and fir trees, picnic benches and lamp posts dusted with ‘snow’, which also carpeted the runway that Penélope Cruz walked down holding a single white rose in tribute to the late designer.

2. Valentino’s Illuminated Poetry

“The people you love become ghosts inside of you and like this you keep them alive.” These words, unmissable in their monumental scale, formed the illuminated backdrop of Valentino’s A/W19 show. They were written by poet and artist Robert Montgomery, who was also included in a specially made anthology in honour of the collection titled Valentino on Love, alongside poems by Greta Bella Macina, Mustafa The Poet, and Yrsa Daley-Ward. During the finale, Pierpaolo Piccioli and the models gathered at the end of the runway underneath Montgomery’s billboard, in what was a moving moment.

3. Miu Miu’s Multi-Screens

New Zealand-born, London-based photographer and filmmaker Sharna Osborne was tasked with creating the show set for Miu Miu A/W19, which was comprised of multiple screens that had been stacked and layered, and each displayed moving and still images from Osborne’s personal archive. The set mirrored the codes of the brand, giving the impression of leafing through an adolescent visual journal or scanning the poster-splashed walls of a teenage bedroom.

4. Louis Vuitton’s Museum Within a Museum

What might seem like an impossibility on paper became a concrete reality at Louis Vuitton A/W19, where an iconic Parisian museum was brought to life inside another iconic Parisian museum. Namely, the Musée Louvre, a show space that is now synonymous with the French fashion house, which had its Cour Carrée courtyard made into a replica of the Centre Pompidou – a building designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers in 1977. Well, would we expect anything less from M. Ghesquière?

5. Prada’s Romantic Mood Lighting

Prada’s A/W19 womenswear show – titled Anatomy of Romance – was staged in the same building as its menswear collection from earlier this year: the Deposito performance space in the Fondazione Prada, Milan. The set was realised by architectural firm OMA, who created a “theatrical terrain of lights and architectural devices to evoke a science fictive atmosphere”. Here too, models walked on an industrial steel island in a sea of acoustic foam, the entire space softly illuminated by 150 filament lightbulbs for a suitably romantic ambience. 

6. Dior’s Artistic Homage

Maria Grazia Chiuri turned to 88-year-old Italian conceptual artist Tomaso Binga for the Dior A/W19 show space, using her 1976 photographic series Naked Alphabet as a backdrop to the show. A red, grid-like structure was pinned to the walls of a marquee in the gardens of the Musée Rodin, with each square containing a back and white image of Binga in various poses, forming a letter of the alphabet with her nude body. The artist also introduced Grazia Chiuri’s collection, by reciting a poem to the audience before the first models walked out onto the runway. 

7. Gucci’s Giant Mirror

“More than 120,000 LED lightbulbs form a bright, almost blinding elliptical wall which integrates with a more than 100-metre long mirrored runway similar to a shiny curved path for the #GucciFW19 fashion show,” the Italian house declared over Instagram on the day it unveiled Alessandro Michele’s latest co-ed collection. The set was also conceived by Michele himself – and was rather pared back compared to previous show spaces we’ve seen from Gucci of late – and was designed to kaleidoscopically and “endlessly reflect and refract lights and movements”.

8. JW Anderson’s Cloud-like Carpet

Designed to feel like a Japanese Zen garden with rocks embedded in the sand, JW Anderson’s A/W19 set was comprised of faux boulders peeping out of an off-white, high-pile carpet – select to mimic the sensation of walking on clouds. “The rocks could also be the tops of mountains,” said Jonathan Anderson of his vision. “I wanted to do something that was about finding this fantasy and imagination in fashion.”