Fashion Week, which recently ended in Milan and moved to Paris, brings with it great cultural and artistic ferment, especially with its catwalks, which are increasingly spectacular and artistic. Art, often the muse of the greatest fashion collections, increasingly boasts its presence even within the fashion shows, becoming necessary for the creation of art shows, brief but sensational. Set designs, lighting, installations and performances concur in creating magical settings in dialogue with the collection presented. Designers, set designers and creatives are involved in the design of these places, but the name of Bureau Betak stands out among them all.
The Parisian studio today is a reference point for the most prestigious haute couture brands including Dior, Gucci, Fendi, Jacquemus and YSL. Founded in 1990 by Alexandre de Betak, the creative studio contributes to the revolution of the runway show space by inspiring and drawing on avant-garde theatrical, architectural and design settings, as well as including artwork and performance art. The fashion show becomes an experience to be lived in person, a true multi-sensory art show capable of astonishing and decisively communicating. Indeed, the purpose is not only to catch the eye, but also to support and accentuate the messages and intentions behind the new collections, which can be conveyed and explained more clearly with the help of art, a powerful communicative and expressive medium.
The most recent examples are the installations that the Bureau Betak studio created for Bottega Veneta and Gucci during the last Milan Fashion Week. Bottega Veneta’s installation was conceived and designed around the message that the Italian fashion house needed to convey with its new collection: the coexistence of classicism and the need for metamorphosis. The setting is enclosed in a somber, rural-looking place, with wooden seats populating the spotted “a stracciatella” flooring, a favorite taste of Matthieu Blazy (BV’s artistic director). The guests of honor, however, are the two 1st-century B.C.E. Herculaneum Runners and one of fourteen reproductions of Umberto Boccioni‘s futurist sculpture Unique Forms of the Continuity of Space, lent by their home museums (the MANN in Naples and the National Gallery in Cosenza, respectively). Bottega Veneta’s forward momentum is undoubtedly accentuated and underscored by the form and posture of the subjects, which point forward.
With a retro aura, on the other hand, was the set for Gucci’s fashion show, for which Bureau Betak creates an eco-sustainable set, just like the revolutionary new material Demetra, presented by the Italian fashion house. To create the set, the studio relies on entities specializing in the recovery of materials, including Milan’s Spazio Meta. The entire room is lined with soft pistachio green carpeting, contrasting with the dark seats that welcome viewers. Geometry dominates the space, outlining the dynamic progression of the show that passes through two amphitheater pools placed in the center. The setting makes one fully breathe in the atmosphere of the past that the new Gucci collection offers, drawing directly from the historical archives of its stylistic heritage.
Equally spectacular and artistic are some of the sets from past fashion shows, including the total white Gaudian-style setting created in Paris for Dior or, remaining in Italy, the one created for Ermenegildo Zegna among Anselm Kiefer‘s Seven Heavenly Palaces in Hangar Bicocca.
Alexandre de Betak, referred to by the New York Times as “the Fellini of Fashion”, undoubtedly marks a turning point within the world of fashion shows, which become true works of art, on a par with museum displays or theater sets.