Immersive Vogue Exhibition to Examine Runways Past and Present


When the immersive London exhibition venue Lightroom announced The Moonwalkers, a high-budget production narrated by Tom Hanks charting the first landing on the lunar surface, the aim was to allow visitors to relive those historic small steps and the “giant leap for mankind”.

For the venue’s next project, the focus will be on historic steps of a very different kind. Vogue: Inventing the Runway will explore the history of the catwalk, from the intimate couture salons of the early 20th century to the all-singing, all-dancing global productions of the present.

The exhibition, announced on Monday, will aim to lift the curtain on one of the industry’s most symbolic experiences, showing attenders the inside workings of fashion shows; the making of the glamorous sausage.

“At Vogue we’ve been lucky enough over the decades to see many incredible runway shows, which have often told the story of fashion as much as the clothes themselves,” said Anna Wintour, the chief content officer of Condé Nast, and global editorial director of Vogue, in a press release.

The list of houses and designers signed up to be involved reads like a who’s who of the industry, past and present. It includes big luxury names such as Gucci, Balenciaga, Versace, Burberry, Chanel, Christian Dior, Givenchy and Prada, as well as younger, buzzy names such as the cult British designer Martine Rose and the French designer to thank for minuscule bags and gargantuan hats, Simon Porte Jacquemus.

The show will feature designers who this year are moving out of the industry spotlight, such as the 65-year-old Belgian fashion designer Dries van Noten, who last month staged the swansong show of his eponymous label after more than three decades at its helm.

It also includes those who are reaching the heady heights of household notoriety, such as Jonathan Anderson, who was a costume designer on the much-hyped film “Challengers” and who designs for the luxury Spanish brand Loewe as well as his own eponymous label. From Victoria Beckham to Vivienne Westwood, Jacquemus to Jean Paul Gaultier, Christopher John Rogers to Comme des Garçons, the list of names is encyclopaedic.

“It’s fitting to host this Lightroom experience within skipping distance of Central Saint Martins, where so many of the UK’s fashion students begin their journeys to becoming designers we know and love,” said Chioma Nnadi, the head of editorial content at British Vogue, who could have been referencing Alexander McQueen, who graduated from the the London art school in 1992.

The venue’s technology – four-storey walls and 360-degree canvas – will be used to help project the spectacle of modern catwalk shows, some of which have been a far cry from the low-key “fashion parades” of the early 20th century. In recent years, shows have been so elaborate as to involve Chanel, for instance, launching rockets to the sound of Elton John’s Rocket Man.

Catwalk shows are often criticised for their exclusivity. Social media has, to some extent, democratised fashion week but there has been some backlash. At Paris fashion week in March, the hyper-expensive brand The Row issued a no-phones edict at its show.

Wintour said the Lightroom exhibition would offer “a wonderful opportunity for a lot more people to experience first-hand the thrill of watching the history of fashion unfold right in front of them”.

By Ellie Violet Bramley

Learn more:

‘Vogue World’ Takes on Paris — and Sports

The magazine blended fashion, celebrity and sport at an event kicking off Paris Couture Week.

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