Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The History of the Fashion Show

You recently finished reading Ginger Gregg Duggan's article "The Greatest Show on Earth" about the contemporary fashion show. tonight, we will look at some images and video clips related to the history and development of the fashion show over the course of the last century.

Early footage of a Charity Fashion Parade from 1923:


The 'leg shows', revues and chorus girl stage productions from the early part of the century had a big impact on the format and look of the fashion show. 

Here we see the Ziegfield walk used by the models descending the stairway in this 1929 Fashion Show:

The collision of mechanical production, fantasy and wish fulfillment prevalent in films and stage productions of the time, and the 'leg girls' dance numbers of the 1920s and 30s are apparent here in this sequence from the film The Fashions of 1934, choreographed by Busby Berkeley: 

and this sequence from the Gold Diggers of 1935:

The mash-up of entertainment, dance and fashion was also evident in the runway shows of Mary Quant, that resemble parties.


A similar format is evident in this London Fashion show from 1966:

It is fascinating to think about what elements of the fashion show remain constant, and define it as a performance format distinct from other genres.

In the 1980s and 90s, music video and celebrity culture, including the rise of the "supermodel", affected the format of the fashion show, and the other way around.

A video montage of iconic moments from Alexander McQueen shows certainly illustrates the evolution of the fashion show into an event that some might dismiss as the ultimate commercial spectacle, while others hail it as the medium's transcendence of the commercial to the realm of theater and performance.
Alexander McQueen: Iconic Moments from Jean Hürxkens on Vimeo.

We will also be dicsussing possible venues for the show tonight. Thinking about the format of various shows and their use of space will be part of this discussion. Here are a few videos to serve as fodder:
Alexander McQUeen's "Deliverance" (2004)
Alexander McQueen's "It's Only a Game" (2005)
Alexander McQueen's "Supercalifragilistic" (2002)
Alexander McQueen's "Please Sur" (2007)
Alexander McQueen's "Scanners" (2003)

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