fashion yearbook

Ever Since Lagerfeld Put a Parrot on the Runway, Designers Have Loved Stunts

The set of the spring 2008 Chanel couture show.Photo:

W magazine says a “Plain Jane” runway show — one with a white backdrop and no stunts or special sets — is like a tree falling in the forest that no one hears. And we all know the tree no one hears fall is so not the fabulous tree. So obviously when designers fall in the forest — er, stage runway shows — they want everyone to notice. This is why they concoct zany stunts for their special events, like having Sonic Youth play during a fashion show (Marc Jacobs), or entering a fragrance launch party in a faux airplane (John Galliano). Karl Lagerfeld was one of the first designers to incorporate such flair into his functions; the set for his first Chloé show in 1974 re-created a trellis garden at the Palais de Congres in Paris, and he sent one model out holding a green parrot. Oh, Karl. What a moment. In case you missed any of it, here are some of the stunts that the fashion greats have cooked up to get your attention:

Karl Lagerfeld
• The set for a recent Chanel ready-to-wear show was a winding carousel in the Grand Palais that weighed ten tons, took five weeks to carve, and five days to install. (Remember these shows last fifteen minutes. A long fifteen minutes, but still.)
• The Fendi party at Paris Fashion Week included an intimate performance by the “notoriously unreliable” Amy Winehouse when she first developed that rash thing no less.

• One couture set for a Chanel show included a 105-foot tower shielding a winding staircase.
• The set for the spring 2008 Chanel couture show was a rather hokey-looking 66-foot-tall Chanel jacket.
• Fendi did a fashion show on the Great Wall of China last October for a mere $10 million. Then again they racked up $150 million worth of media exposure.

John Galliano
• Took the Christian Dior 60th-nniversary party to Versailles in July 2007.
• Entered the launch party for the fragrance Dior Addict in a fake aircraft suspended from the ceiling.
• In July 1998 the “Diorient Express” rolled into the Gare d’Austerlitz with “high fashion Pocahanteses.”
• When the Dior flagship opened in Hong Kong, a Jumbotron screen showed images from the couture shows that even caused construction workers to stop and watch.

Marc Jacobs
• Set up a counterfeit-style tables to sell real Louis Vuitton bags in honor of the Vuitton-Murakami retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum. The peddlers even used fake accents. So politically correct.
• Did a runway show backward (he came out first and took his bow on the right side of the runway and then the models walked).
• Sonic Youth performed at his most recent runway show at New York Fashion Week, where Kevin Federline sat front row. So glam.

• For its upcoming 150th anniversary, Boucheron will collaborate with Maison du Chocolat to create a snake necklace in chocolate “enhanced with a heart-shaped, fancy brownish-yellow diamond specially cut to weigh 20.08 carats, which is worth $1 million.” Let’s hope they keep it away from any small children

• Created an eight-ton replica of a brooch owned by the Duchess of Windsor out of ice in China.
• Created an ice replica of its Rue de la Paix boutique for the Harbin International Ice and Snow World festival in China. (All the fun stuff happens in China. So unfair.)
• Annually sponsors polo matches held on snow in Saint Moritz, sand dunes in Dubai, or with elephants instead of horses in India (we guess they use really long poles?).

Big Fun [W]

Ever Since Lagerfeld Put a Parrot on the Runway, Designers Have Loved Stunts