Models strutted down the catwalk displaying the cutting-edge fashions of Isaac Mizrahi, Jean Paul Gaultier, Ralph Lauren, and others, while the audience, dressed in their finery, watched in delight. Another afternoon in New York, or perhaps Paris? Hardly.
This was the annual Fash Bash, presented by the department store division of the Dayton Hudson Corp., which graced the stages of the State Theater in Minneapolis and the Fox Theater in Detroit in early August.
The charity event, a 29-year tradition in Detroit, has been a full-scale theatrical production for the past 10 years, and is the baby of independent lighting designer Michael Murnane of Minneapolis. He says this year's program (pictured), which featured a salute to the British Isles, was "more of a video-based presentational show," consistent with what's seen at the fashion shows in New York.
For this year's model, Murnane had to deal with a plethora of video and film support. "Doing theatre lighting, I can fool the eyes, and I can work the focus of attention. But with video, I had to make the background value the same as the value of the foreground, which tends to make your show much less focused. Yet everyone is big on the idea of being able to show the models huge to everybody in the room, and you can't blame them."
This year's Fash Bash featured a castle-like set as well as a 32' (10m) straight runway, and lots of High End Systems gear. "I like the reliability of the equipment," Murnane says. "I've trouped my Intellabeams(R) around for over eight years now and they all work very well." For the Fash Bash, his equipment consisted of eight High End Technobeams(TM), eight Intellabeams with custom gobos, 21 High End Studio Colors(R), 12 High End Cyberlights(R), 36 ETC Source Fours, 36 Source Four PARs, 12 house 3-cell cyc lights, and about 24 additional house units, positioned mainly on the balcony rail and in the box booms. Throughout the project, Murnane depended on the Strand 530 console; "It's a really great theatrical light board with a good moving light package in it."
For his color palette, Murnane drew his inspiration from the theme of the show. "I used a lot of red and blue, based on the British flag. The video projection had imagery of the countryside, so I did sky colors and colors that would keep in tune with the imagery," he explains.
He says lighting fashion shows can be distinctly different from pure theatre. "People come to see the clothes. My first priority is to put an attractive, camera-friendly, color balanced and corrected white light on the runway." Once that's accomplished, Murnane then moves onto lighting the set, designed by special events producer/set designer Todd Knaeble, who has worked with the LD for years on Fash Bash. "I'm not a big fan of light as art, but I'm a big fan of light supporting art," Murnane concludes.