Catwalk Concerts


Fashion and music are the same, because music expresses its period too.

                                                                                     ― Karl Lagerfeld [/quote]

From music videos to the runways, the coupling of music and fashion seems inevitable.  As Karl Lagerfeld points out, music and fashion are cultural artifacts that make a commentary about the historical period from which they sprang – but they also give a very clear picture of the individuals wearing and listening to them. Natural complements, the two have become intertwined on the runway, in retail stores, and through brand partnerships.  In this first of three articles on the music/fashion love affair, Sociology of Style takes a look at how music is transforming the runways and gives you some DIY sociological experiments to try at home.

Music is a staple of the theatrical unveiling of each season’s looks.  Serving as a soundtrack for the cinematic experience of the collection, the carefully curated tunes set the mood and tone of each show.  The music tells a story and constructs a narrative around which the patterns and textiles can swirl. And, sometimes, the music is actually the inspiration for the designs themselves, as explored in this NPR story.

A recent trend involves “super DJs” and artists creating a runway set for the brand’s collection – or actually performing live, as Keane did when they teamed up with Burberry in Beijing, or when stars like Jay-Z and Kanye performed on the Victoria’s Secret runway as the “angels” walked the catwalk (this year fans can look forward to watching Justin Bieber, Rihanna, and Bruno Mars perform in this lingerie parade). Daft Punk recently created a custom mix for the Yves Saint Laurent show at Paris Fashion Week.  (Get more inside details from top DJs about their runway playlists here. )  And, in a unique twist on the music and fashion intersect, Lady Gaga opened the Philip Treacy show (pictured below) and walked the runway for his London collection that featured Michael Jackson’s clothing – but she did not perform any musical acts.

D.I.Y. Sociological Experiments: What happens when music becomes attached to a distinct aesthetic?  What happens when the visual is brought to life with rhythm and audible lyricism? You don’t need to be on a catwalk to feel the power of this audio/visual partnership:

  • Think of one of your favorite songs.  Then hop on YouTube and watch its official video – first without the sound, then again with the sound.  How are those experiences different?
  • Now watch a video of a fashion show – first with the sound off, then with it on.  Does your perception of the clothing change?
  • Want to relive (or discover) the fashion anthems of New York Fashion Week 2013?  Create your own playlist from Billboard’s selection of the top ten runway songs and strut your stuff on your living room runway.