Over the years, music has shown that it truly does move hand-in-hand with fashion. Designers are calling out to musicians for inspiration more than ever before - to create collaboratively designed collections or to commission exclusive soundtracks for their fashion shows. Wanting to tell a story for the ten minutes on the catwalk, the right sound can unequivocally elevate a designers runway. So much so, that the music that accompanies a catwalk show has become as integral a spectacle as the designs that walk it. Produced or created exclusively for the shows, we’ve listed up the most impressive musical performances that have soundtracked some of our favorite designers' catwalk shows. Listed in chronological order, all soundtracks were either performed live or mixed with the show in mind.
Beck for Dior Homme Spring/Summer 2005
Dior Homme’s Spring/Summer 2005 collection was a sultry and moody state of affairs. For the show, Dior’s then-creative director Hedi Slimane pieced together a selection of army-surplus jackets, sleeveless plaid shirts and tight hip-slung jeans – all to the tune of Beck’s pulsing, custom-made soundtrack. The mix included a range of samples that were later used in his critically acclaimed album The Information. Since scoring the soundtrack, Beck and long-time friend Slimane have continued to work together – namely on a Saint Laurent campaign in 2013, in which the effortlessly cool singer was styled and shot by the creative director himself.
Hear the mix and see shots of the collection here.
Soulwax for Dries Van Noten 2005
Back in 2005 Belgian designer Dries Van Noten commissioned Soulwax to score the soundtrack for his newest collection. The exclusive mix featured the Belgian brothers lending their remixing skills to '70s glam rock band Roxy Music. It eventually surfaced online six years later - posted on Facebook by none other than Mr. Brian Ferry himself.
Listen to the exclusive 13-minute megamix, which starts off with "Love Is A Drug," via SoundCloud.
These New Puritans for Dior Homme Fall/Winter 2007
Former creative director for Dior Homme and current creative director for Saint Laurent, Hedi Slimane understands the power between music and fashion in ways very few do in the industry; the French designer is renowned for working with emerging musicians. In 2005, he commissioned Razorlight to create a fifteen-minute long soundtrack, which, in edited form, went on to become one of the band’s biggest hits. In 2005, Slimane commissioned the British art-rock band These New Puritans to create the track "Navigate Navigate" for Dior Homme’s Fall/Winter 2007 collection, which marked the designer’s last défilé of Dior Homme. The track, which is the band’s longest ever, ran for the full length of the 16-minute show and was composed, recorded and produced in just over a week.
Stream it via YouTube.
Azealia Banks for Mugler Fall/Winter 2012
Before she’d even released her debut album, Azealia Banks was commissioned to create an exclusive track for the Mugler Fall/Winter 2012 collection. Headed by none other than Lady Gaga’s fashion stylist, creative director Nicola Formichetti called upon the New York rapper to create the brand new song entitled "Bambi." The collection, created in collaboration with Mugler’s head menswear designer Romain Kremer, expands the idea of the male hero due to its exploration of cut, fabric and silhouette. The throbbing dance track features Fashion Week-appropriate lyrics and was created by super producer Paul Epworth, who has worked with the likes of Adele, Florence And The Machine and Cee Lo Green.
Watch the runway film here.
Thom Yorke for Fall/Winter rag & bone 2013
Thom Yorke is no stranger to remixing the runway. Together with Nigel Godrich, he composed the soundtrack of rag & bone catwalks in 2011, 2012 and 2013. 2011’s mix includes two atmospheric tracks entitled "Stuck Together" and "Twist," whilst the latest mix they produced for the brand’s 2013 menswear collection is our favorite. As the Atoms For Peace pair point out on their Soundcloud, the mix, entitled "You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Angry," is a “collage of unreleased beats and such like… featuring Mauro from Atoms for Peace and a mashed beat by Jonathan Greenwood esq.” It’s a hazy and haunting affair and the mix's ominous, repetitive tones are perfectly in line with the New York fashion labels muted and ambient pieces.
Listen to the mix via Soundcloud here.
M.I.A. for KENZO Fall/Winter 2013
No such list would be complete without including Sri Lankan artist M.I.A. In 2013, she lent her glittery, colorful demeanor to the well-matched fashion house KENZO. For its Fall/Winter 2013 collection, the singer produced an original piece named after her 2013 album, Matangi – a reference to the Hindu goddess as well as M.I.A.’s birth name. The energized, throbbing beat makes complete sense when paired with KENZO's eclectic prints and their signature eye motif. Since the show, M.I.A. and California duo Carol Him and Humberto Leon have worked together on producing M.I.A.’s video for "Y.A.L.A."
Say Lou Lou, Yelle & Citizens! live at Maison Kitsuné Fall/Winter 2013
Every season the Pitti Tradeshow based in Florence selects a special guest designer to present its collection on the catwalk and last year they invited Maison Kitsuné founders Gildas Loaec and Masaya Kuroki to take center-stage. As Masion Kitsuné is not only a fashion brand but also fully active as a record label, the duo pulled out all the stops for their F/W 2013 show. The two curated a event staged as a live TV recording hosted by Verbal and Yoon and featuring the label's new musical talents, which included Say Lou Lou, Yelle and Citizens! What makes the show particularly unique is that the musicians, adorned in the fashion house’s latest collection, doubled up as models. French band Yelle appeared in a playsuit and parka, Swedish twin sisters Say Lou Lou wore contrasting red and white looks and London’s five-piece Citizens! were kitted out in identical grey tailored suits.
Indulge in the pop performance via its YouTube video.
Beastie Boys' Mike-D for KENZO Spring/Summer 2013
Certainly one of the more unusual ones on the list, Mike-D’s mix for KENZO abandons the slow, melodic pulse one would expect on a runway and opts for fast, raw beats. Mike-D and KENZO's creative director Humberto Leon bonded over their shared love of classic California hardcore such as Black Flag and Dead Kennedys. The idea behind the mix was to merge hardcore punk with contemporary music. The mix, entitled "Humberto Vs The New Reactionaries: Christine And The Queens Remixx," is a mash-up of different genres, speeds and includes Diamond screaming through psychedelic effects – all of which acutely complement the loud, mixed prints of KENZO's designs. In Diamond’s own words: “Talking to [KENZO creative director] Humberto [Leon], I wanted to honor what he was inspired by: American hardcore like Black Flag, Bad Brains, Circle Jerks but then I wanted to update it, or maybe couldn't help but to update it...I have been listening to a fair amount of trap records and I think that found it's way into things on this for sure...I definitely shared Humberto's passion for American Punk and that raw energy and I think that informs the collection and the soundtrack I did.”
Listen to the 10-minute punk-meets-trap merger via Soundcloud.
Jamie xx for KENZO Fall/Winter 2013
One of Fall/Winter 2013’s most talked about shows was KENZO’s at Pitti Uomo in Florence – largely due to the music that graced it. French fashion house KENZO called upon Londoner Jamie xx to produce an original mix exclusively for their Fall/Winter 2013 menswear show. The live-mixed soundtrack features soft beats, soothingly distorted vocals and an ethereal bounce that provides the perfect aural backdrop to the collection’s central cloud print and its "Jungle In The Sky" theme. Let yourself be hypnotized by the live show.
Janelle Monae Live at Rebecca Minkoff Spring/Summer 2014
American fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff certainly played her cards right when she collaborated with the one and only Electric Lady on her Spring/Summer 2014 collection. Known for her unrelenting energy, Grammy Award-nominated Janelle Monae graced Minkoff’s catwalk with two backing singers and a three-piece band from Monae’s own creative collective Wondaland Art Society. Dressed in her signature black-and-white uniform, the R&B singer-songwriter performed standout tracks such as "Q.U.E.E.N" and "Electric Lady "from her latest album to complement Minkoff’s Frida Kahlo and Bianca Jagger-inspired collection.
Watch the ladies’ impressive audio-visual collaboration here.
Ryan Hemsworth for Opening Ceremony Spring/Summer 2014
Some of the most highly sought-after seats during New York Fashion Week were at Opening Ceremony’s first ever runway show. The S/S 14 show, held at Pier 57 on the Hudson River, featured luxury sports cars, fierce models, Korean print-inspired designs and an adrenaline-inducing mix by Canadian DJ Ryan Hemsworth. The 11-minute customized soundtrack starts aggressively with throbbing drumbeats and trickles of electronica, slides into an R&B groove and eventually amalgamates into a poppy melody with pitched-up vocals and SNES samples.
The mix, which features Surkin, Jacques Greene and original Ryan Hemsworth tracks, is worth checking out now via Soundcloud.
Paloma Faith live at Burberry Fall/Winter 2014
Earlier this year, Burberry models found themselves walking down the catwalk to the powerful vocals of Paloma Faith. Accompanied by six violinists and two cellists, the singer took center-stage in a gorgeous Burberry gown as the models, including Cara Delevingne, presented the label’s extravagant Fall/Winter 2014 pieces. This year, the Burberry Prorsum show saw Faith performing her new track, "Only Love Can Hurt Like This." Tom Odell and Rhodes are amongst the other British musicians who have performed in recent years.
Watch the performance filmed at London’s Kensington Gardens via YouTube.
Radiohead's Colin Greenwood at Dries Van Noten Spring/Summer 2014
Belgian designer Dries Van Noten sure does have a knack for sourcing unusual soundtracks for his runway shows. Take Radiohead’s Colin Greenwood's rare bass guitar performance, for example. In what is believed to be the guitarist’s first-ever solo appearance, Greenwood stands isolated in a large industrial warehouse with nothing but a bass guitar, strumming minimal bass lines as a row of leggy models march past him. Inspired by his favorite piece from Van Noten’s collection, which boasts stunning barbed-wire embroidery, Greenwood adapted the bass line from Radiohead’s "My Iron Lung." It’s a peculiar and sparse affair but somehow, the oddity seems to work in everyone's favor: there’s certainly allure in the juxtaposition of Greenwood’s static demeanor and the designer’s remarkable attention to detail.
Watch the show for yourself here.
St. Vincent Live at Diane von Furstenberg Fall/Winter 2014
Following the success of American Express' first fashion-meets-music collaboration, Diane von Furstenberg joined forces with St. Vincent to commemorate her Fall/Winter 2014 collection. The event was sponsored by AMEX to celebrate the 40th iconic wrap dress and featured the singer debuting tracks from her self-titled fourth studio album. Held in Spring Studios in downtown Manhattan, the show was a visual and aural delight; St. Vincent’s beautifully confident performance provided a dazzling backdrop for the models to strut to.
James Murphy for Ermenegildo Zegna Couture Spring/Summer 2014
Just recently, luxury Italian fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna showcased its newest couture Spring/Summer collection for 2015. Since the show, director Johan Söderberg has edited the runway performance into a four-minute video to give viewers a better understanding of the collection’s concept. Designed by creative director Stefano Pilati, the show takes its inspiration from both architecture and space and is set to a sax-driven musical affair. Created exclusively by musician, producer, and co-founder of DFA Records James Murphy, the soundtrack is the producers remix of Pharoah Sanders’ spiraling saxophone, which fits the dreamy mood of the runway to a T.
See the four-minute fashion show film here.