Nick Gray, the UK’s leading fashion lighting designer once again brought his imagination and flair to the mix for London Fashion Week AW14, designing lighting for the main BFC showspace at Somerset house which featured up to eight premium shows per day plus a number of interesting and high profile ‘offsite’ shows.
These included Jasper Conran at the Saatchi Gallery, Julien Macdonald at the Royal Courts of Justice, Roksanda at the Old Sorting Office, New Oxford Street and Anya Hindmarch at Old Billingsgate Market.
Gray brings his distinctive crossover style to the world of fashion show – a dynamic mix of rock ‘n roll attitude, industrial chic and a hint of adventure! He particularly enjoys the challenges of working in found spaces ‘offsite’ and lighting shows in new and different ways that still ensure everyone gets the results they need.
In the main showspace, Marios Schwab and Vivienne Westwood were just two of many shows to which Gray applied the magic of illumination to change the atmosphere and help showcase the style.
The creative starting point here was an image from US photographer Hank Walker’ s dramatic Drag Racing series, starkly beautiful; black and white classic cars with the headlights forming huge startling lightsources. This was used on the show’s invite.
Gray installed two massive 10K Laco fresnels at the runway entrance / exit. The showspace was configured as two identical mirror-image runways with models walking up one side, across and down the other – a format introduced last season to maximize the audience capacity.
The giant vintage housings of these luminaires set the exact retro image that Gray sought to replicate, and the bulbs were downgraded to 2Ks so they could be run through the conventional show dimmers. They were positioned on stands behind an angled smoked Perspex glass, a concept originated by the Showspace’s Creative Producer, Charlotte Lurot of Bacchus.
The runways in the Showspace were lit with around 200 ETC Source Four Profiles on overhead trusses, plus a front array of 40 more above the media platform.
In keeping with the moody Marios Schwab theme this season, these were dimmed by around 50% to give a warmer hue on the back of the models’ heads.
Lines of electronic candles – supplied by Schwab’s team – were placed along the floor adjacent to the runway
All lighting was supplied and co-ordinated by Renegade, and operated by Paulus Van Den Heijkant with Paul ‘PK’ Kell as crew chief.
Rebellious, daring and insatiably cool on the catwalk, Gray’s lighting and Westwood’s fashions have a great synergy already, and for this one which followed Marios Schwab, the whole rig was run in tungsten to warm up the space.
The show also featured a live band playing the soundtrack and some stunning new looks and eccentricity.
The Eudon Choi show theme was 1960s Beatlemania and mass hysteria, so Gray added atomic strobes used to mimic a sea of photographers’ flash bulbs as archive footage of the Beatles and their screaming fans appeared on large video screens installed for the show.
Jasper Contran at the Saatchi Gallery show was produced by Inca and staged in one of the first floor galleries for which Gray designed an 8 legged ground support system that was built with about 10 mm to spare from the sides and ceiling of the room in every direction!
“It was a great tribute to the skills and accuracy of my crew achieving that,” Gray comments, adding that was necessary so they could utilize every possible centimetre of available space.
A centre run of trussing above the runaway was rigged with 82 x ETC Source Fours with various lenses plus a front array of another 18. Twenty-four 1K fresnels lit the audience and added visual interest, and the design featured eight studio Pantograph fittings rigged to scaff barrel running horizontally across the perimeter trusses. Four of these were fitted with photo floods and four with Acclaim fresnels.
A Hog 4 console was operated by Adam Baker with Mark Bradshaw the Renegade Crew Chief. All lighting equipment was supplied by Renegade.
The Royal Courts of Justice glowed with star clad celebrity front rows and the glitter and sparkle of gold, silver and pewter oozed along with the sheer glamour of the clothes at this one, with the lighting very much designed to match the vibe.
Gray’s lighting scheme involved the installation of a large ground support system measuring 6 metres wide and 7 high at one end of the room, plus three 5 metre high totem towers on the balcony above.
The totems were designed to be sympathetic to the architecture with its set of majestic arched windows behind and also to reveal the permanent costume gallery that resides on the first floor balcony, making a synonymous connection with historical and contemporary fashion. They also provided positions for 36 x Source Fours which lit? the runway.
The front array of 52 x Source Fours was rigged on the ground support structure together with 12 x Source Four Zooms for audience lighting and eight Clay Paky Sharpies used as a WOW factor for the intro.
Forty-eight short nosed PAR cans fitted with Raylight bulbs / reflectors were dotted around the space shooting up the pillars of the building and enhancing the ‘verticality’ and elegance of the environment.
A further 40 x bars of 6 Raylites were used to light the pre-show reception area.
All lighting was supplied to Renegade’s team by White Light.
The fabulous industrial ambience of the Old Sorting Office was an ideal setting for Roksanda Ilincic’s innovative collection. Produced by Blondstein, the space was transformed by Creative Director Gary Card who installed twenty 3 x 4 metre Layher scaffolding platforms around the venue to create the physical shape defining how the show was staged.
Gray took this prompt and lit it with 24 x bars of 6 PARs which were very easy to rig on the towers. These were fitted with brushed silk gels to split the beams and colour corrected to ½ daylight “Cool but not gloomy” elucidates Gray.
The front array comprised 20 x Source Fours with different lenses. Twelve Source Four Juniors together with 12 floor PARs and eight Atomic strobes with dark blue filters were used to highlight the room’s architectural features.
Gray’s pièce de résistance was a bunch of fluorescent plasterer’s lights also dotted around the place to “maintain the building site feel” which were highly effective … and hardly the traditional fashion show approach, together with 12 x Atomic Strobes also flashing in the background, revealing the venue’s depth rawness!
Hindmarch presented her stylish everyday wear collection of bags in an epic show produced by Inca with a 1940s extravaganza feel centred on five travelators forming multiple runways. These and the back wall were decorated in the black & white Hindmarch barcode logo stripes.
There were plenty of other surprises, with dancers and musicians popping in and out of the slickly choreographed show, the idea stemming from taking clothes away from the drudgery of supermarket shopping … and injecting the passion and chaos factors of theatre and performance back into the experience of wearing them!
Gray had three overhead runs of lights, the centre of which was 36 x Panalux Flobanks used to create the supermarket fluorescent lighting look – these were specified for their look as props as well as lightsources!
Twelve Vari*Lite 3000s were used to create red scanner beams zapping over the barcodes and around 60 ETC Source Fours were used as the performance key lights, with another 40 in the front array and 160 on the outer 2 overhead trusses.
Renegade’s lighting contractor for this one was Neg Earth Lights, the lighting console operator was Rob Gawler and Matt Pitman was Renegade’s Crew Chief and Project Manager.
The biggest challenge for Gray during another action-packed London Fashion Week was scheduling his time … to be able to brief all his various crews, oversee the get ins, re-rigs, focuses and shows … a method which he now has down to a minute-by-minute fine art, together with his ability to stay sharp on two hours sleep snatched when possible.
Naturally there’s also the fantastic hand-picked team of talented individuals whom he works alongside, “My crew are simply amazing!” He declares.
This year he had the additional pressure of designing lighting for the BAFTA’s afterparty at Grosvenor House on the Sunday evening, and the Warner Music aftershow at The Savoy following The 2014 Brit Awards on the Wednesday!
Photos: Louise Stickland