General News / January 17, 2017

Storytelling through sets: AW17’s best set designers

General News / January 17, 2017

Storytelling through sets: AW17’s best set designers

A good fashion designer tells the story of a character through clothing – delivering ideas and thoughts straight from the designers’ brain to the catwalk and, inevitably, on the backs of the consumers that manage to purchase a piece before it sells out.


What is often an essential role in telling the story of a collection, but seldom focused on by reviewers, is a physical world for the clothing to inhabit that speaks as much for the character as the garments themselves. Three shows in particular this season have succeeded in supplying environments that quietly speak volumes on the issues that led to the birth of the collections they display.

Cottweiler AW17 & Cottweiler for Reebok

Ben Cottrell and Matthew Dainty; of the FKA Twigs, Jamie XX and Skepta-approved sportswear brand Cottweiler; revealed their AW17 collection in London last week and yesterday landed in the Tuscan capital to present their collaboration with Reebok at Pitti Immagine Uomo 91.

Their Regent Street show brought a story based on outdoor survival, which – coupled with Richard Whittle’s set design, Nicke Bidlstein Zaar’s art direction and styling, and production managed by Studio Boum, created a scene not far off an outdoor rave in the woods. Music by SEEKERSINTERNATIONAL and the closing strobe lights made this a show to remember.

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Photo via studioboum

Cottweiler’s subsequent presentation with Reebok, held in the basement of Marino Marini Museum in Florence, evoked feelings of being somewhere similar to a spa – a temple dedicated to wellness which coordinated with the design collaboration’s theme of sports garments that place equal importance on aesthetic design and functionality.

The scenography by Andrea Faraguna solidified this mood by creating an environment of futuristic beds of ancient Sicilian rock salt, lit in hues of red LED lights, and dry immersion tubs that suspended models floating above bright blue LEDs. The result was an unusual approach to presenting a collection which succeeded in fusing both the technical and cultural legacy of Reebok with Cottweiler’s unique and forward-thinking vision for high-fashion sportswear.


Photo by Antiono Giocommetti


Jeremy Scott is known for bright, colourful shows that pop and fizz like sugary sweets for your eyes. His AW17 presentation in Milan, however, was darker, more fearful, but ready for war. In themes shared with several other designers this season, his collection presented a new uniform for the everyman to survive our new world order.

The dystopian set design by the brilliant Gary Card featured; glowing clocks (counting down), stacks of flashing screens (displaying skewed faces and body parts), and exposed thick wires that hung like snakes from scaffolding next to hanging curtains of plastic – with light sources coming from flashing LED tubes and plastic chandeliers akin to sea monsters. The juxtaposition of the intricately-detailed palazzo, built in 1642, with contemporary machine-made props matched the designers sparring pairings of ballgowns with combat boots – which created a tense environment from an undetermined future.

It gives you the feeling as if the characters in this story were interrupted mid-dance, mid-celebration, with terror and warfare. A clever and remarkably visually stimulating comment on the current political climate we face in 2017.

Martine Rose

Martine Rose made a triumphant return to men’s fashion week by forcing spectators out of London’s Zone 1 all the way to the Seven Sisters indoor market in Tottenham.

Her collection was inspired by American Psycho-style bankers, London bus drivers, estate agents and office workers. It’s an exploration of masculinity through subcultures and the commonplace underground passengers the designer shares her everyday space with. By placing the runway through a functioning market, where local vendors handed out Columbian snacks to front-rowers sitting on mismatched chairs, the designer effortlessly achieved the quest of bringing the fashion packs back to reality – best symbolised by the image of her model’s walking past ads for spanx and chicken, next to children’s drawings begging the city to ‘save our market’.MartineRose2

Photo by Anabel Navarro Llorens