Karl Lagerfeld loves a destination fashion show.
From Cuba to Seoul to even Dallas he’s wisely broadened Chanel’s footprint — and drawn the fashion troops to these travel-heavy, jet lag inducing locales to boot. But he’s not the only designer or brand that’s sought after unexpected locations for a fashion show. Just this past resort season Louis Vuitton unveiled its cruise collection in Kyoto, Japan. And one could rival L.A. is the most convenient-ish spot that’s played host to Tommy Hilfiger, Rebecca Minkoff and even Tom Ford as of late.
So what’s this all about?
Jessica Minh Anh might have the answer. The Vietnamese model-turned-producer has secured — and presented — fashion shows in locations ranging from the Eiffel Tower, One World Trade Center, London’s Tower Bridge and, most recently, the Hoover Dam.
And though the designers participating in these getaway catwalks don’t have the caché such as Lagerfeld, they do have Anh rallying for them. The most recent exhibition included nine collections that varied from ready-to-wear to jewelry. Dramatic silhouettes and bold colors popped against the desolate, desert backdrop — and people were there to witness it, a feat that shouldn’t be ignored.
Participating designers included South American Christian Zerrá, Turk Gülnur Günes, Hong Kong-based Kaprice and Peruvian Ani Álvarez Calderón among others. Not only do Anh’s productions serve as captivating backdrops to an assortment of designers, they act as an incubator for buyers and editors to examine work by talent that’s left unseen by those outside of their respective regions. Plus they offer plenty of Insta-bait for social hungry editors.
She’s been onto this experience thing for a while — a tectonic shift that’s spreading across the retail market to date. As experiential retail continues to build momentum, the idea of less traditional runways shouldn’t be far behind — the attendees are some of the decision-makers in the industry, after all. Take for example Prada’s brick-and-mortar in Marfa, Tex., that’s served as a destination for fashion pilgrimages for fashion insiders and fans alike.
Retailers and fashion houses needn’t look further than what Anh has accomplished. Chanel’s iconic shows will be ever inspiring but for brands on a budget — a number that grows weekly — will find more a pragmatic approach despite the extremity of Anh’s selected locations. Participating in group shows to familiarize a brand with new buyers from various regions is not something to turn one’s nose up. Retailers can tap into a new source of consumers, too.
Cuba can wait — but it doesn’t need to.
More from WWD: