Browse all

5 designers who walked the runway

Matthew Williams is neither the first nor will be the last

5 designers who walked the runway Matthew Williams is neither the first nor will be the last

Yeezy's latest show held on Monday night in Paris was a controversial affair-between t-shirts glorifying white supremacy, 3D printed boots, dissing toward Bernard Arnault and Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, and half the fashion world suspended between anger and embarrassment, other things happened, too, like a fashion show. During this fashion show, wearing looks co-designed by Shayne Oliver were celebrities such as Naomi Campbell, Michele Lamy, and Matthew Williams. It was Matthew Williams, by participating in the show, who joined the small roster of designers who walked the runway - a fairly short list of names in fashion history. In an industry dominated by rivalries, territoriality, mutual grudges, and irreconcilable friendships, the fact that a designer promotes the work of competitors always causes some stir. 

Therefore, we decided to list the five most famous episodes of designers becoming models, either for others or for themselves.

1. Martin Margiela for Jean-Paul Gaultier FW86

The year was 1986, the Soviet Union was disintegrating, and Gorbachev's policies, perestroika and glasnost', dominated public discourse. Deciding to immerse himself in the issue, Jean Paul Gaultier created a collection inspired by the Constructivist artistic current, which originated in Russia before the Soviets took over, in which he incorporated artistic techniques, color reference and Cyrillic letters into his clothes. Part of the models in the collection were the brand's own staff members, and among them, unsuspectedly, was Martin Margiela. It was videomaker Loic Prigent who unearthed the secret last year when, while interviewing Gaultier, he discovered that one of the models on the runway was indeed Margiela. Why had no one noticed? Margiela did not like to be photographed and therefore his face was hardly recognizable. Until now at least.

2. Vivienne Westwood for Yohji Yamamoto FW98

The show in question, the one to present Yohji Yamamoto's FW98 men's collection, was particularly important because it is regarded by critics as the first occasion when the Japanese designer's language and style for menswear took on its most mature and definitive form. In a particularly tingling twist, Yamamoto decided to show only women and not men. These women included icon Ines de la Fressange, indie film queen Charlotte Rampling, and, finally, even Vivienne Westwood, who brought her signature panache to the runway. 

3. Alexander McQueen for Comme des Garçons FW97

As @maisonscene recounts on Twitter, a few days after his own Givenchy debut, which would mark the beginning of a difficult and brilliant era in the designer's career, Rai Kawakubo asked Alexander McQueen to open the FW97 Comme des Garçons Homme Plus show. The British designer agreed out of professional sympathy for Kawakubo, an unyielding creative when it came to defending his own freedom of expression. Another reason for the bond between McQueen and Kawakubo was the fact that the designer's daily wardrobe consisted of a high percentage of Comme des Garçons pieces. The collaboration was later renewed in the special issue of Vestiaire in which Nick Knight and McQueen joined forces with guest editing by Kawakubo-the result was spectacular work.

4. Gabriela Hearst for Gabriela Hearst Resort 2021

In the middle of 2020, a year about which it's useless to comment, fashion was in trouble. How to present collections to buyers and press halfway around the world without meeting them physically? The season of digital presentations opened, which had, to be fair, somewhat mixed but often very creative outcomes. One of the designers who had the simplest idea of all was Gabriela Hearst who, for the Resort 2021 collection of the brand that bears her name, became the protagonist and narrator of her own fashion film and lookbook along with her sister. The result is disorienting simplicity and yet the most amazing thing is that nothing testifies to a designer's pride in her work like putting her own face on it - literally.

5. Francesco Risso for Marni FW22

For Marni's FW22 show last year, Francesco Risso wanted to tell an idea of community and its members: «All living under one roof, the Marni roof, sharing the same wardrobe but each one wearing it their own way», reads the brand's message. And if the entire brand community was ideally placed on the same plane, the brand's creative director also placed himself in its middle. A gesture that was interpreted as a renunciation by the designer of the aura of divine superiority that fashion narratives often attribute to these figures.