Sergio Salerni

With 30 years’ experience in the sector, Sergio Salerni is easily the best known and most requested fashion show director in Italy. After cutting his teeth filming advertising spots, particularly fragrances for fashion brands, including Valentino and Cerruti, Salerni turned to runway shows in the late Eighties through his firm Urbanproduction. Today, he works with labels including Alexander McQueen,  Ermenegildo Zegna, Fendi, Marni and Versace on their runway shows and events in cities ranging from Milan, Paris and New York to Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and Dubai. Here, Salerni, who is also co-owner of Casa Momus, one of the hottest restaurants-cum-bars in Rio de Janeiro, discusses the state of fashion show production, reveals a few secrets for a successful event and offers his
take on the future.

This story first appeared in the August 17, 2016 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Considering the tremendous transformation taking place in communication, what are the pivotal elements and key factors for a successful show today?

A runway show sells dreams. Its success is proportional to the emotional level that you are able to generate in the guests. This is a basic principle of communication.

How have the requests from your clients changed over the years?

When I started 30 years ago, shows were real emotional events. I remember the Versace shows when the first ready-to-wear collections were presented — these were unique events with the international supermodels becoming the dream of Italians. Then came the period of minimalism, typical of the American culture, and the focus was all on products. These were presented in an essential way with the rigor and minimal reduction of stage elements. Nowadays brands opt for extremely suggestive sets to present their collections. Case in point is the location of the most recent event: the iconic Trevi Fountain for Fendi.

What’s the magic formula for a successful show?

The magic happens when the set, music and lights contribute to the storytelling by interpreting and exalting the spirit of the products
on show.

What have been some of your most successful projects?

One of the most satisfying recent projects was definitely the celebration of Fendi’s 90th anniversary in Rome. We created a transparent Plexiglas catwalk, which gave the illusion of models walking on water. It has been extremely exciting
and moving.

With the booming trend of see-now-buy-now and the unification of many men’s and women’s shows, how do you think your work will evolve? What’s the future scenario?

Fashion shows are, and always will be, media events — the era of shows for a few fashion insiders is over. Today, everybody can have immediate access to images, which must stimulate the interest of final customers. This is why fashion shows are destined to be more and more grand and stimulating in order to showcase what’s in the market at that specific time.