Switzerland-based designer Philipp Plein presented his spring and summer 2018 men’s and women’s collections at New York Fashion Week in a runway spectacle that combined A-list entertainment with Plein’s edgy designs. WorldStage provided lighting for the event that transformed the mammoth Hammerstein Ballroom into a club-style venue for some 3,000 attendees.
The show began with burlesque star Dita Von Teese performing her signature giant martini glass striptease at the top of the runway. Then rapper Future appeared to serve as a musical accompaniment to the runway show itself, and Nicki Minaj popped in for a special late-night performance. A three-hour after party for guests followed.
“The Hammerstein Ballroom is a rock ’n roll concert venue and not a typical choice for a fashion show. Beyond that, this was a complex production and the lighting rig had to also meet the needs of live performance and a high-end dance party,” explains WorldStage Project Manager, Susanna Harris-Rea.
The production design was evolving up to the last minute. Plein made major alterations to the show the day before load in – something not uncommon in the fashion world but a rare occurrence on this large a scale.
“The show was completely rebuilt on site,” says Harris-Rea, “and we all had to react to the changes on short notice at one of the busiest times of the year. This circumstance highlighted what I think sets our lighting department apart from the typical rental house: our hands-on relationships with our clients and the role that plays in the artistic process.”
“Working with a company as seasoned and dedicated as WorldStage makes all the difference in pulling off an event at this level. Their extensive experience in the field provides an invaluable understanding of how best to anticipate our team’s needs,” says Renee Molina, Executive Director of Lighting for CS Global.
She notes that Plein’s intention “was always to integrate the runway show with multiple, varied performances and an after party in a cabaret setting; we knew the scope for lighting was quite ambitious. The whole show was meant to be a spectacle.”
Molina’s first priority “was always to ensure that we treated the runway properly. All the rest was very important eye candy. Since we knew we wanted to use followspots on the models, the challenge was getting the ideal angles on a runway that thrust far into the house. It was necessary to utilize the center sections of all three balconies to achieve this, which was something we had to really insist on. It paid off.”
Molina and Lighting Designer Coby Beck chose Robert Juliat Heloise, Ivanhoe and Aramis followspots for the runway. “We felt very strongly about these,” says Beck. “Knowing this was going to be a very big followspot show, and that they would almost always be used in pairs, we wanted to find the best fixture for that need. The Robert Juliats have a great consistency between units and were particularly ideal since there were Heloise 2500w short-throw, Ivanhoe medium-throw and Aramis long-throw models.”
Claypaky Scenius Profiles were selected as runway front lights for their “clean, even field and great color mixing and shutters. Even though we also had followspots, we did not want to compromise on this clear choice,” says Molina.
“The Scenius was also a great fixture to cut through the rest of the light in the room,” adds Beck. “They were a key player making the runway have a great photo and video quality. The consistency between units is fantastic. Often the color matching of moving lights can take a whole day for a rig this size, but with the Scenius, it was just a few minutes.”
To tackle the additional needs of the show, Molina and Beck had to get really creative. “The Hammerstein has lots of great lighting possibilities and positions with which to light the space theatrically,” says Molina. “As far as the music and performance, it was relatively easy to find interesting places to put lights. It wasn’t necessarily the size of the space which required more gear to fill it as the nature of the show itself. But it was a pleasure to be in a venue with good height and to be able to use that to its full advantage.”
Claypaky A.leda B-EYE K20s did double duty, both as a diagonal back light on the runway and as eye-candy, to enhance the club feel. Sharpys and Mythos were great for tight shafts of light on the runway and in the air. The GLP Impression X4S fixtures were used to light a step-and-repeat and two stripper poles where the ceiling height was only about eight feet. And a series of VARI*LITE fixtures were used for gobo effects, silhouette effects and back lights.
“Because of the ever-changing needs of the show, Susanna and I were on the phone probably a dozen times a day – and at all hours, I might add!” says Beck. “She and the WorldStage team’s constant optimistic and positive attitude made it a great collaboration.”
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WorldStage Inc. continues a thirty-year legacy of providing clients the widest variety of entertainment technology coupled with conscientious and imaginative engineering services. WorldStage provides audio, video and lighting equipment and services to the event, theatrical, broadcast and brand experience markets nationally and internationally. For more information visit www.worldstage.com