Fashion week presentations are well and good, but the truth is, most of us live for an epic catwalk moment. I mean, no one remembers Naomi Campbell for standing around motionless — it is her singular strut that has become iconic. And nothing sets the mood for the signature walk of a long-legged model better than a reverberating soundtrack that reinforces the mood and intention of a collection.

Though a well-chosen track is literally instrumental to a show’s success, music remains the unsung hero of fashion week. Partly because it’s kind of like elevator tunes — constantly present but such an inherent part of a fashion show we tend to take it for granted. So this year we thought we’d give fashion week soundtracks a well-deserved moment in the spotlight.

Below are some of the tracks that best set the tone for a memorable season at NYFW FW17.


Chromat called on the talents of DJ Haram to churn out a high energy mix that featured Byrell the Great and Jersey club queen Uniiqu3’s collaborative single, “Werk Ya Body”. They didn’t stop there either, Uniiqu3 herself took to the runway to perform the song.

Calvin Klein

Calvin Klein‘s show was one big Americana overload and the label had the soundtrack to prove it. The overview included two different versions of “This is Not America” as well as the theme song from 1969’s Midnight Cowboy. The show opened with Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” and followed it up with The Flamingos’ “I Only Have Eyes for You”. After that came Air’s “Suicide Underground”, David Bowie and Pat Metheny’s “This is Not America”, more Bowie in the form of the New York Cast of Lazarus also playing “This Is Not America”, and finally Benjamin Wallfisch’s “I Want to be Sedated”.


As always, VFILES came through with the interactive runway show, live performances and star-studded attendance list. This time the youth-driven label also hosted a TRL-style pre-show complete with performances from Zara Larsson, Lil Uzi Vert, Cardi B, Lion Babe and more. The actual show featured performances from Joey Purp and 21 Savage as well as live DJ’ing from Brenmar. Unfortunately the show stream isn’t available quite yet, but you can enjoy the pre-show in the meantime.

Alexander Wang

Sticking to his noir-loving, athleisure aesthetic, Alexander Wang had his models walk out to equally atmospheric music. The designer started with DJ Edjotronic’s “Pleasure & Pain” Jensen Interceptor remix and finished out strong with some thrumming Spanish trap via La Goony Chonga and Trap Sade’s “Tengo Dinero.” Wang may not have had his famous afterparty but at least the show was still lit.


Telfar took a more conceptual and performance-based approach to the show’s music. The script, which was read over a moody soundscape, will likely not be a hit with everyone. However, it fits Telfar’s outsider perspective and deeply DIY point of view. In the words of Aaron David Ross, who composed the piece, “there will be no easy listening in this elevator,” and that’s not always a bad thing.

Gypsy Sport

Gypsy Sport offered another soundtrack that will likely be challenging to some — it’s basically just the sound’s of New York’s underground. However, given that designer Rio Uribe based his collection off of “urban outdoor living,” it offered a cohesiveness that should be acknowledged.

YEEZY Season 5

Rather than presenting some of his own music as he’s done in the past, Kanye West took us back to 2000s-era R&B. The rapper turned designer had his models walk to the reference track of J. Holiday’s one-time smash single, “Bed.” The-Dream, who is one of the song’s writers, provides his trademark falsetto vocals in an atmospheric and stylish take on the song that more than competes with the original.

Tommy Hilfiger

Tommy Hilfiger found an uptempo ticket to success via Kenyan-Norwegian singer Stella Mwangi’s single, “Work.” We challenge anyone with a pulse and warm blood not to want to dance to this. I mean, seriously, it’s called “work” for a reason…

For more of our music features, take a look at the most important music industry figures you’ve never heard of right here.

Words by Stephanie Smith-Strickland