Creative catwalks are big business within the world’s fashion capitols of New York, London, Milan, and Paris, but for smaller markets getting fashion shows noticed by the public is more challenging. Sometimes the best solution is to stage a show right where it can’t be missed.
[one_half padding=”4px 8px 0 2px”]There have been some creative sets for fashion shows over the years. Tommy Hilfiger always creates a set that echos the general theme of his clothes for the season. Marc Jacobs once had models coming up and down on escalators and elevators simultaneously. Sets for Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel shows are elaborate productions costing millions of dollars. Some say the over-the-top sets help set those brands apart. Others say the sets distract from what are otherwise boring collections lacking in originality and creativity. When one remembers the setting for a show more than the clothes shown in it, one has to wonder if the latter isn’t more correct.
Today’s photo is taken from the 2011 Indy Fashion Time presentation on the canal in downtown Indianapolis. Unlike Hilfiger, Jacobs, or Lagerfeld, this presentation showcasing multiple designers wasn’t looking to overshadow the designers, but rather answer the challenge of making sure people notice them. As the Internet has allowed smaller designers to set up shows without having to move to New York or Paris, smaller cities such as Indianapolis have started having fashion weeks and other fashion related events of their own. The challenge: getting anyone to notice without the huge million-dollar budgets of the big cities.
Indy Fashion Time (IFT) founder Dlang Ferguson, a respectable designer in her own right, hit upon a creative solution to the exposure problem when in 2011 she orchestrated a summer-time runway presentation right out where no one could miss it: Indianapolis’ downtown canal. The downtown canal is a leftover from the pre-railroad days in Indiana that has become a popular destination for both tourists and locals, its broad sidewalks, artistic elements, and gondoliers making it attractive to a wide range of people. Drop a fashion show in the middle of that on a warm summer’s evening and people are bound to take notice![/one_half]
[one_half_last padding=”4px 2px 0 8px”]Not that such expositions are easily achieved. Ms. Ferguson worked tirelessly with the various government officials months in advance for the necessary permits and permissions to stage the show. Presenting the show outside creates a plethora of logistical challenges, ranging from security to model prep areas to how to provide music without violating noise ordinances. Dlang understood that to put a show in such a public place meant that it had to be a bit extravagant, impossible to miss, and come off without a hitch. No small detail could be overlooked.
Added to all the logistical challenges was the ever-looming spectre of rain. When one has to start planning so very many months in advance, there is no way of predicting at that juncture what the weather might be. Summer in the Midwest, as in much of the United States, is often quite erratic, going from suffocatingly hot and humid one day to pouring down rain and threatening thunderstorms the next with little warning or forecasting to allow one to change plans. Dlang says she had an internal confidence that the weather was going to cooperate, though, and sure enough it couldn’t have been a more pleasant evening.
A couple of seasons ago, Karl Lagerfeld created his own urban street setting indoors because actually using the streets of Paris would have been too dangerous and too expensive. Smaller cities trump the big ones in that regard, giving designers and events such as IFT the chance to bring fashion directly to the people, right smack in the middle of town. While the task is never easy, the urban outdoors is a dynamic fashion set unlike any other. [/one_half_last]