Being a long-time fashion show goer is a bit like being a crackhead. No matter how many bad experiences you have you just keep on going in hopes of recapturing the high you got from your first magical, life-changing runway experience. When I think of Marc Jacobs' Fall '94 collection (most famous for having the Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" on repeat as the soundtrack) I imagine that's what a fashion show in heaven looks like. Sadly there isn't any good footage of that sensational sartorial moment on YouTube but there is footage of these other 10 shows that knocked my high-fashion socks off.
Alexander McQueen -- Fall/Winter 2009
Every single show Alexander McQueen ever did was a standout but there was something about this one, titled 'Horn of Plenty' and dedicated to the designer's mother, that can never be matched. Models paraded around a pile of old chairs, TVs and set pieces from McQueen's past seasons and everything was exaggerated to the point of delirium. Houndstooth prints were blown up to gigantic size. The lips were enormously clown-like. Philip Treacy's headpieces featured aluminum cans, cling wrap and umbrellas. It was science-fiction cartoon but at the same time the most sophisticated show I've ever seen.
Really almost any of Marc Jacobs' shows could fit on this list because he and his team just know how to pack a wallop. I call this the Dr. Seuss show but that's an oversimplification. The music was a mash-up of different versions of "Who Will Buy" from the musical Oliver! and the clothes included oversized jackets with large buttons, enormous fur hats, pilgrim shoes with giant buckles and lurex disco socks. It had the innocence of childhood dress-up but also the glamor and refinement of the finest designer garments. Rachel Feinstein's dreamy cut-out set completed the picture.
Philip Treacy always serves up some hall-of-fame level outrageous creativity but his Spring '13 show really took things to never-before-seen levels of style magic. And that's a pretty good trick for a hat designer! The entire show was inspired by the late, great King of Pop, Michael Jackson, and the models wore Jackson's actual stage costumes, which were on loan from one of the music legend's costume designers and were going up for auction in Beverly Hills a few months later. The hats featured great moments in Jackson history including a single sparkle glove and the amusement park at his Neverland Ranch made into head gear. The models were all black and the music all Michael's greatest hits. Oh, and Lady Gaga introduced the show, in a sheer pink burka-esque cloak. And, to tie all together, Gaga actually bought many of the costumes at the auction.
While we're on the subject of Chanel, we couldn't leave out the house's Fall/Winter 2008 carousel show that had replaced the horses with Chanel bags, shoes and hats. And when the last model climbed onto the merry-go-round, the bags and shoes started to go up and down as the carousel spun. The entire audience felt like little girls on Christmas morning.
In 2005 there was an explosion of celebrity clothing lines and most of them were pretty stinky. Sweetface by J. Lo was basically department store clothes but the show had such a fun energy and not to mention a wind machine!
The Isaac Mizrahi 'scrim show' was immortalized in the documentary Unzipped and proved that if you give models a chance to ham it up on the runway, they will. And, yes, I mean you, Linda Evangelista. The clothes were inspired by the film Nanook of the North and were simultaneously fabulous and wearable. We're sure being in the movie helped make this moment legendary but Isaac also just knew how to put on a really fabulous show.