The Best Performance Arts on The Runway

The Best Performance Arts on The Runway

The fashion runway no longer boasts itself as an opportunity for designers to showcase garments but has evolved over several years into of an overall experience. Although there shouldn’t be a deviation from the garments themselves, the theatrics involved with performance arts on the runway is what truly elevates the experience. Whether it be the use of technological devices or that of elaborate choreography, many a designer has seamlessly excelled in this very feat.


Hussein Chalayan is a British Cypriot designer who has been synonymous with runway performance art since his debut in 1994. Known for being one to push the envelope, Chalayan actively counteracted the typical trend and became arguably one of the most skilled avant-gardist visionaries in fashion. One such notable example of his artistry was his Spring/Summer 2007 show, in which Chalayan showcased a journey through fashion silhouettes in history in the form of six morphing metal animatronic dresses. While this certainly wasn’t his first technological experimentation with garments, it has remained one of his most significant ones to date.

Honorable mentions include: 

  • Coffee table dress at Fall/Winter 2000 collection
  • Melting paper dresses from Spring/Summer 2016 collection
  • Airplane wing into a couture gown at Spring/Summer 2000 collection
  • Airborne’s 15,000 LEDs light up dresses to champion the environment at Fall/Winter 2007 collection


Widely heralded as a visionary with boundary pushing designs, Alexander McQueen engrained himself as one of fashion’s greatest creative minds in history throughout his career. Mcqueen redefined what it meant to showcase one’s work on the runway, and his Spring/Summer 1999 collection was nothing short of this. The 13th show from the British designer featured the utilization of meticulously crafted prosthetics as well as a robotic-like spray painting manufacturing machine. But perhaps the climax of the presentation was when supermodel Shalom Harlow emerged wearing Look no.13 – namely a strapless, cinched waist dress. Harlow stood on a circular platform as the robotic art contraptions sprayed her in a choreographic manner. The unison between technology and fashion orchestrated through McQueen’s artistry depicted the very epitome of performance art.


Parisian brand Coperni emulated Alexander McQueen’s artistic happenstance during their Spring/Summer 2023 finale, producing likely the most significant fashion moments of the season. While not necessarily as wearable a piece as Queen’s, it served as a genuinely impressive and unexpected form of artistry. The collection, Coperni Femme, was meant to be an ode to femininity and the female form, which was demonstrated through each of the looks in distinctive manners. But it was the closing look in the finale that garnered an abundance of attention and discussion in fashion media. Model Bella Hadid emerged wearing simply nude underwear, while cupping her chest and stepping onto a mirrored platform. Through the utilization of cutting-edge technology, Hadid was spray painted from her neckline down to her calves with a white substance called Fabrican. The substance was formulated in such a way as to form an off-the-shoulder cocktail dress, which seamlessly conformed to Hadid’s figure.

Featured Image Courtesy of Pexels

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