Fashion’s 10 Most Dramatic Runway Shows

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While no one is going to argue against the practicality of Old Navy (hey, even tech vests had their moment), it is clear that high fashion is often wearable (or in the case of The Devil Wears Prada — quite unwearable) art. But sometimes even these threads can get upstaged (theatrically speaking), and fashion shows become more about over-the-top production than the clothes. Case in point: Chanel’s RTW Fall 2010 show, which featured a 265-ton iceberg that was imported from Scandinavia and handcarved by 35 ice sculptors. In that spirit, after the jump we’ve rounded up some of the most outrageous runways shots we could find. Recession, what?

Alexander McQueen, Fall 2006

The late designer employed a larger-than-life hologram of his muse, Kate Moss, to start off his runway show (the piece was done by filmmaker Baillie Walsh, art-directed by McQueen). As you can see in this video, the model twirls about in a flowing dress to classical tunes, and then vanishes into the ether — quite like reality, no?

Marc Jacobs, Spring 2007

While this may simply look like a runway painted green (see: rolling hills), veer right. That isn’t just regular shellacked flooring beneath the lawn-green catwalk, but a sea of mint candies. No leads on just how many candies were used to create the effect, but Sofia Coppola certainly looks impressed.

Chanel, Fall 2008

Oversized purses, bows and double-C baubles made up just part of this kiddie-fashionista dream. The main attraction was the Chanel carousel, where the waifs were rotated round and round, joined by the equally svelte Karl Lagerfeld.

Fendi, Spring 2008

For the debut of his new line for Fendi, only one venue was splashy enough for Lagerfeld: The Great Wall of China. The over-the-top show reportedly cost a whopping $10 million to produce, and the “world’s longest catwalk” was constructed on a raised platform on a restored part of the landmark.

Pierre Cardin, Spring 2008

Not to be outdone by Kaiser Karl, Pierre Cardin and his chief designer Sergio Altieri decided to take their presentation to the desert of Mingsha Mountain, in northwest China’s Gansu Province. The juxtaposition of the sand with the white of the collection is striking.

Henrik Vibskov, Fall 2009

Man-sized rotating hamster wheels and odd-looking bowler hat/mouthpieces made this playful Scandinavian designer’s show the talk of Copenhagen Fashion Week. They also led to some rather sweaty models.

Maison Martin Margiela, Fall 2009

Inspired by The Usual Suspects, Maison Martin Margiela decided to do his menswear show criminal line-up style — in front of a two-way mirror.

Moncler Grenoble, Fall 2010

A three-story scaffold was built especially for the Moncler Grenoble show at the Chelsea Piers Waterfront Golf Club. Judging by the scary ski-masks and the fact that Bach and Puccini provided the soundtrack, we can’t imagine a fashion show getting much more dramatic than this.

Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Spring 3001

A virtual fashion show with Lego models, a Lego set, and even a mini Lego Anna Wintour. Fabulous or rather silly? We’re not exactly we’re sure, but we we’re willing to bet it was cost effective.