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Just when you thought runway music couldn’t get any more diverse, in pops a smattering of doo-wop to freshen up, in a retro sort of way, the sounds of the spring runways. There was also plenty of Seventies disco and classic rock, a sprinkling of Eighties classics and Nineties alternative, a dose of classical mixed by DJs and a few live performances thrown in.
Brooklyn-based dream-pop trio Chairlift played a set at the Honor show after guest DJ Theodora Richards occupied the audience with Tears for Fears tunes. Carlos Miele engaged Brazilian singer Bebel Gilberto, who captivated guests with a bossa nova-style rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2.” At Odd Molly, Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (Sean Lennon and girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl) put on a show. And Grammy-nominated musician John Forte performed three songs at Nanette Lepore. Showgoers walked away with a CD titled John Forte Inspired by Nanette Lepore Spring 2011.
Those who didn’t go live still kept it interesting. Doo.Ri mixed tracks from The XX, Warpaint, The Black Keys and David Bowie, but most memorable was the tune photographers whistled when the music malfunctioned mid-Bowie. At Michael Kors, one song played the whole time: “Here Comes the Sun.” But three different versions—from Richie Havens, Silverwood Quartet and The Beatles. Oscar de la Renta went retro with “The Great Pretender” and “Only You” from The Platters, while Marc Jacobs went Baroque with Antonio Vivaldi’s “Summer” from The Four Seasons, right off the 1723 hit parade. The song of the week seemed to be Nilsson’s 1969 hit “Everybody’s Talkin’,” heard at a few shows, including Tommy Hilﬁger and Rodarte.
British singer Sonique performed at The Art of Being by Elizabeth Emanuel (famous for designing Princess Diana’s wedding gown), ending the show with Andy Williams’ “Moon River.” Some designers went with an unexpected mix. Julien Macdonald matched a rendition of “Il Dolce Suono” from the opera Lucia di Lammermoor with a slower tempo remix of Nina Simone’s “Summertime.” Todd Lynn began his show with an electro punk dance beat ending with Radiohead’s “Creep.” And David Koma opened with Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” before switching to techno beats.
Milan’s runway music was all over the place. Seventies touches were at Gucci with “You Are Everything” by Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye and at Etro with “Love Is a Drug” by Roxy Music. Others went for unusual tracks: Versace had “Carmen” (“L’Oiseau Rebelle”) from the Malcolm McLaren album Fans (which fuses opera with Eighties R&B). As usual, a few movie soundtracks found their way in, like Psycho’s strings by Bernard Herrmann at Jil Sander, or “Dies Irae” by French electro artist Sebastian from the Notre Jour Viendra (Our Day Will Come) movie soundtrack at Fendi. The Milano Loves Fashion event once again had performances by rising bands including The Horrors, Lizzie Jagger and Jethro Cave—all opening for the C’N’C show.
Perhaps the most impressive live act came in Paris, with the 80-piece L’Orchestre Lamoureux, led by composer-conductor Thomas Roussel, at Chanel. The orchestra turned out versions of Björk’s “Bachelorette,” “Pneumonia” and “Isobel” and a rousing interpretation of The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony.”
Beth Ditto rock ’n’ rolled her way down Jean Paul Gaultier’s runway with an a cappella version of Ike and Tina Turner’s “River Deep-Mountain High,” while at Manish Arora, musician and composer Marc Chouarain entertained guests with a theremin (an early 20th-century instrument controlled by two metal antennas that sense the position of the player’s hands, so it can be played without being touched). Other noteworthy soundtracks included four versions of “My Way” at Balmain (Frank Sinatra, Shane MacGowan, Nina Hagen and Sid Vicious) and “I’ll Be There” by The Jackson 5 at the Alexander McQueen ﬁnale.