Fashion Show Changes: A Comparison between the 1990s and the 2010s

Runway shows are a core part of the fashion world. They are, if we can make a comparison, like the locomotive of a train, pulling everything that comes next. The runway shows are the forefront of the fashion calendar, followed by campaigns, films and store adaptations of the presented clothes.

While it may seem that fashion shows have always been the same, they did change a lot, as the way society changed imposed changes on runway shows too.

When fashion shows began, they were more of a “showing” than a “show”, meaning that they were small gatherings where clothes were showcased, pretty much the same way as appliances were showcased by salesmen.

By the 1970s, fashion shows had become more creative and fashion houses were putting together presentations that were rather conceptual in nature and which started being worthy of the title of “shows”.

The 1980s were a colorful time in fashion and started to transform fashion into something that was more mainstream than before. Fashion shows were now dedicated to professionals and everyone who was interested in owning, wearing or just seeing exceptional garments. It was the 80s when the big supermodels of the world took the stage and changed the face of fashion.



Fashion shows in the 1990s

In the 1990s, fashion shows were a true craze. As stunningly gorgeous models such as Linda Evangelista or Claudia Schiffer walked the runways of Milan, Paris, New York and London, people were cheering on, even whistling and clapping. Photographers would do crazy yoga-like poses leaning on the runway to take the best shot of them. Cameramen were running around on the lookout of the best angle. The audience would mostly sit, but many people who didn’t have a place to sit would stand, as they wanted to see the gorgeous creations that were presented to them. When models walked, they sometimes touched audience members or media people with their clothes and it has been seen that, as part of the show, models would even smoke.

This context was an expression of how life was in the West in the 1990s: the models were the unattainable divas that came in contact with the public who liked them and the clothes they wore. Men were drooling over the models who walked like goddesses of fashion and women admired their confidence and the clothes that gave them this confidence. It was an interaction between people of different types and that was what the runway shows of the 90s special.



Runway shows after 2010

As time went by, and society became more and more rigid and uptight, fashion shows have changed that as well. After 2010, almost every fashion during a formal fashion week event takes place only once everyone has sat down, the media is kept at a distance the models walk quite often very slowly and the whole ambiance feels like something very important and outlandish is being presented. People aren’t even allowed anymore to dream of coming in contact with the models, it’s all like shop’s window: the people are divided from the glamorous world they are being presented and any interaction, even on an emotional level is not allowed. Often, there is a lot of extra music and dancing involved in shows. Many fashion shows try to incorporate videos and special effects in their shows, but all these artifice take away from the clothes, which should be the center of the show.

Of course, this restrained aspect makes the shows more important; it puts designs in an art light and makes the experience more structured and seamless. What’s great about them is that they are very clear and one can focus on the clothes and not necessarily on the contextual aspect. In a way, fashion shows used to be a lot about the audience, it was about the interaction about the clothes, the models and the audience, but after 2010 they are all about the clothes, which can be regarded as a good thing.



Moving forward

As the fashion world diversifies, we are expecting to see different types of fashion shows emerging in the future. Maybe a new generation of supermodels will arise, maybe some underground, niche models will reshape the way fashion is lived and presented. Designers are always trying to move things and shift them, so the possibility of a renewal of fashion shows is definitely in sight.



Fraquoh and Franchomme






Further reading:

Do people buy clothes off the runway?

9 must-see fashion documentaries

Hopes for fashion

The 6 goddesses of modeling you should know

10 male models you should know

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