Striking Stage Designs of New York Fashion Week

Striking Stage Designs of New York Fashion Week

New York Fashion Week is like a gift that everyone waits to unravel with anticipation and intrigue.

Along with trendy collections of magnificent designers, it’s also thrilling to observe all the settings where the magic happens.


Fashion shows have evolved in revolutionary ways over the years. Everything from runway set designs to afterparties have turned into a canvas for creativity. Organizers have to make the shows stand out with perfectly selected stage design elements. The choice of lighting, decor and layout requires a meticulous approach. It shouldn’t outshine the collection but rather support and present it in its best light.

“Stage setups with bold and elegant design elements raise brand awareness with a wow-factor,” according to Front Signs, a company with extensive experience in the design and installation of event signs US-wide. With beautiful models in irresistible outfits, designers have to make sure they have a space to match.

Thankfully, even the craziest ideas are not out of the question these days. NYFW shows give designers plenty of room to imagine and create extraordinary set designs. You may notice a lapse of time between the shows described because of the unforeseeable circumstances of the last two years. We won’t be discussing the fashion weeks held in September 2020 and February 2021 as these runway shows were held predominantly on virtual platforms given pandemic restrictions.

Enough chit-chat! Here are stage design highlights from recent NYFW shows for your inspiration.

Intriguing and Practical Solutions

NYFW events are where fans can satisfy their hunger for fashion. Witnessing imaginative solutions like cool-shaped runways and exclusive stage decors plays a big role in the experience. The last NYFW was welcomed by all fashionistas with delight even despite the strict protocols. Designers shared the joy as they could once again experiment and use set designs to the collection’s advantage.

Anna Sui, for instance, created a scene that matched the collection beautifully. Her Spring/Summer 2022 collection entitled “Another Day in Paradise” used the space and audience seating booths to establish the mood of her collection. Palm tree leaves adorned the sides of the runway like a path in the lush tropics while cocktails were served for the guests at their tables. This fresh approach created a breezy setting for the viewers, making them feel as though they were watching real-life people walk by in their vacation outfits.

The set design for the spring/summer 2020 collection of Rag & Bone is another fascinating show to discuss. It was a collision of fashion and technology with a dynamic tone set through live music. A robotic arm captured high-tech videos and projected them onto the sides of the band’s stage in the middle of the space. As dancers performed on the edges of the runway, their images were broadcast in digital form using sound waves, merging man and machine. It felt like a real-time conversion of the real world into its virtual representation. Although large screens are often used in shows to display up-close footage of models and establish a certain atmosphere, this was something else. It reinforced the offline presentation, blasting it into a futuristic digital form to provide the audience with an exceptional experience. This is how forward-thinking ideas can level up the fashion show game and propel new designs for the next season.

The Power of Lighting

It’s all about lighting when it comes to presenting fashion. It’s a powerful tool for highlighting a collection and adding visual depth to it.

During NYFW’s history, many designers have used lights of different colors, playing with them to create a special perspective. Monse’s Fall 2020 show is a vivid example of that. The raw dark space was illuminated by exposed light bulbs hanging from the ceiling. It created a striking atmosphere and transformed the runway. This technique illuminated the collection and complemented the rebellious style of the clothing.

Another stage design that stood out with lighting was Anna Sui’s show. Here the transitions of light from red to purple to green and back to purple had a powerful effect on the show’s mood. It gave the space a colorful yet Gothic twist with a dramatic effect on the models’ silhouettes.

The Rodarte Fall 2020 show was a hit thanks in part to its use of light as a contrast creating element. Using Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula as inspiration, they worked hard to reflect the vision on the runway. By placing strategic lights and candles in the greenery, they created an eerie but exquisite ambiance. Still, they made sure the catwalk was the focal point of the scene. Lighting, as everything else on set, should be a supporting element without taking center stage.

Flawless lighting is essential. It should be used to enhance the clothing without shifting the attention away from the show. If too bright, it will make models look washed out in photos. If too dim, they won’t even show up on camera. Of course, experienced designers won’t let that happen. They know exactly how to use lighting to their advantage.

Simplicity and Elegance

Fashion sets need a careful and creative touch of interior designers to present the show in its best light. The best of them know the art of subtlety. As so aptly stated by Leonardo da Vinci, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

This approach was perfected by Christopher John Rogers in his Fall 2020 collection presentation at NYFW. Having the salons of 20th century Paris in mind, he went for a classic but modern style for the show’s staging. Thick golden curtains and a massive but simple chandelier were chosen as the sole features for the space. The former was used as a backdrop and provided a luxurious look fit for the collection. This show exemplified how the concept and motivation behind a particular collection is key. And sometimes, it’s best to realize it through a clean and elegant approach.

NYFW teaches us that when it comes to fashion shows, every detail counts. The choice of the venue and it’s design is a top priority for these events. The decor elements, illumination and layout are a means to accentuate the presented collection’s charm. Due to the ever-evolving nature of the fashion industry, designers are free to experiment and use different tools to transfer their message in an interesting and memorable manner.

With all the NYFW events ahead of us, we’re looking forward to the evolution of stage design. The sets that complement collections from not only high-profile but also emerging fashion designers are sure to be triumphant. Hopefully, we’ll see runway set designs take on next level approaches to create exhilarating experiences for the world of fashion.