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.
Louis Vuitton -- Spring/Summer 2014
Before this Louis Vuitton show the rumors were swirling that it would be Marc Jacobs' last for the house and as soon as you walked in, you immediately sensed the feeling of a finale. The set was a 'greatest hits' montage of Marc's shows for Vuitton: the escalators, the merry-go-round, the fountain, the train station, the elevator. Jacobs shows are always emotional and this one was nostalgic, sad, sweet and ultimately satisfying. It felt like a nice way to tie everything in a lavishly expensive, handmade bow. Sure enough, within a few hours of the show ending it was announced Jacobs was leaving.
Marc Jacobs -- Fall/Winter 2012
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 -- Spring/Summer 2013
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.
Chanel -- Fall/Winter 2014
One thing that no one ever says at Chanel is "Oh no, that would be too expensive." Thanks to that attitude ANY Chanel show is an unbelievable spectacle. For Fall 2014, attendees entered the Grand Palais and were greeted by the Chanel supermarket: a real supermarket-sized store featuring miles of shelves filled with Chanel-branded products like pasta, mayonnaise, cereal, cleaning supplies and produce. The models carried shopping baskets and some even pushed carts and did their grocery shopping down the runway/store aisles. It was truly delightful, hilarious and got the super jaded, seen-it-all fashion crowd smiling, talking and having a great time.
Chanel -- Fall/Winter 2008
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.
Dior Couture -- Spring/Summer 2004
During the John Galliano for Dior days, his shows redefined what a fashion show was and it was during his couture collections when Galliano took things way over-the-top. The Spring/ Summer 2004 King Tutankhamun show was the pinnacle of Galliano's mad genius. It was basically nothing but the most elaborate, shiny, complicated gowns we've ever seen, mostly gold and mostly constructed as if they were a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. Pat McGrath's makeup also took things to the most surreally gorgeous level.
Rick Owens -- Spring/Summer 2014
Rick Owens always travels to the beat of his own drum (check out his schlong-baring men's show if you don't believe me). In Spring 2014 Owens skipped his usual casting of professional models in favor of a step team called Step With Momentum. For audiences accustomed to a parade of waifish, sullen-looking Eastern European teens, the dance troop was something they'd never seen on a runway. Their hypnotic, high-energy dances to pulsating music -- and fierce-as-hell grimaces -- gave us all an experience that we'll be talking about for years.
J.Lo -- Fall/Winter 2005
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!
Isaac Mizrahi -- Fall/Winter 1994
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.