Nick Gray of London, UK based creative visual design practice Renegade designed lighting for the main British Fashion Council (BFC) Showspace at London Fashion Week SS14, together with a series of high profile off-site shows including Roksanda, L’Wren Scott, Jasper Conran, Matthew Williamson and Osman.
Gray is one of the UK’s best known fashion lighting designers, noted particularly for his unique crossover style which brings hints of rock ‘n’ roll – in lighting and edginess – to the runway.
The all-white BFC Showspace in Somerset House was designed by Bacchus – Gray is one of their regular collaborators – and this year he took advantage of the structure being a wider double apex tensile structure, which increased the space by at least 50% on previous years.
The interior was designed around two near identical spaces which could be either joined to make one massive U-shaped catwalk environment, or each side could be run individually for more intimate showcases.
The lighting rig in both halves of the room was duplicated, with one central HUD truss – chosen for its low profile and pulled tight to the roof beam with the motors sitting inside its void – flown above the runway, and a front array of lights at the media ends of each room.
The HUD truss - wider and narrower than standard trusses and braced at the bottom – was a perfect solution to utilise every single millimetre of available height. Having a central truss made the two spaces tall and slim.
Gray used around 180 ETC Source Four profile fixtures, fitted with a variety of lenses, mostly 36 degree. Additional chrome Minuette fresnels were used as fill lights for the top end of each runway, mounted directly to the structure’s ceiling.
Lighting for the shows – up to seven a day – was operated by Dave Ross using a Chamsys MagicQ 100 console and Renegade’s crew-chief was Alex Murphy. Renegade co-ordinated the complete lighting equipment supply - from Neg Earth – and all the crew.
Gray also lit several other spaces at Somerset House for LFW SS14, including The Studio downstairs, The Cinema Space and all the Lounges.
Gray worked in an eclectic selection of other venues for all his offsite shows which included the Saatchi Galley (Jasper Conran and Matthew Williamson), a glass fronted 14th floor office at The Place, London Bridge (Roksanda), The Gagozian Gallery, Kings Cross (L’Wren Scott) and at the Bloomsbury Ballroom (Osman).
For the first time at LFW, Gray used Robe’s new MMX WashBeam moving light fixtures for two of his offsite shows – Jasper Conran and Roksanda.
Both of these were staged in challenging-to-light spaces.
For Jasper Conran at the Saatchi Gallery, he had to deal with the gallery’s overhead ‘house light’ fluorescent banks being on; while at The Place, one side of the catwalk was lit with moving lights and the other from daylight streaming in through the floor-to-ceiling windows, complete with fantastic panoramic views over the river Thames.
Jasper Conran featured an eye-catching retro black and white pop-art ‘face’ backdrop and matching runway to showcase the flowing contemporary elegance of the clothes, and was lit using just 20 Robe MMX WashBeams!
For Roksanda – Gray positioned 30 x MMX WashBeams in the ceiling opposite the main window running the full length of the space. The challenge was in balancing the artificial lighting to the daylight which shifted minute-to-minute with changing weather conditions outside.
Light levels and colour temperatures had to be tweaked right up to the moment the show started. Gray relished the challenge of pre-empting nature in this very organic way!
In both these cases Gray introduced moving lights because the clients required some drama and variety in the light levels. He needed a versatile, dimmable source with a good selection of CT whites as well as a flexible shutter system and hot-spot adjustment.
The L’Wren Scott collection was presented in one of the Gagosian’s gallery spaces as a sumptuously chic fashion and dining experience. The room has large skylights in the ceiling, so Gray worked additional show lighting in to the natural daylight – again relishing the interesting environmental scenarios that this presented. For this show in particular, it was important to work closely with the set designers so the technical equipment remained as concealed as possible to keep the look stark, white and minimal.
For Osman at the Bloomsbury Ballroom Gray’s lighting scheme mimicked the well-tailored precision of the clothes. The show was lit with around 30 x FloBanks - a DMX controlled focusable fluorescent soft-light source designed by Panalux. These were hung on two levels of hidden scaffolding rigged around the edges of the space, fine-tuned to provide a crisp, bright high-white look and complimented by a front array of Source Fours, all colour corrected to daylight.
The Matthew Williamson show was presented in the upper level of the Saatchi Gallery, for which the Renegade crew installed a large ground supported truss, full of Source Four profiles to provide a wall of front lights. The challenge here is the lack of height and power, but by utilising the overhead fluorescent system and balancing the colour temperature Gray achieved a sharp, vigorous white to complement the designer’s vibrant range.