Twice a year, once in late winter and again at the dawn of fall, designers, models and press come together for the international affair known as Fashion Week. A month long in actuality, those involved gear up for long hours during days when the sun is scarcely seen. Models seem to follow strict diets of little more than Diet Coke and Marlboros. Scraps of tulle, safety pins, and Polaroids of models cover studio floors. Once September finally comes around, the runways of New York, London, Milan and Paris turn aglow, surrounded by throngs of the who’s-who of fashion. Photographers get into position behind their perfected tripods. The lights dim, the voices hush, and the music begins before the first slender silhouette prowls onto the catwalk. For the next fifteen minutes, the audience is engulfed in theatrics created by the designer’s eye, swayed by sartorialism and driven by sound.
Electronic music found its home on the runway long before the term “progressive house” reached radio broadcasters’ microphones across America. Whether the chosen tracks are upbeat, melancholy, or as strange as a single blaring note, a designer’s concept relies heavily on them. These are the soundtracks that stood out amongst the rest during the Spring/Summer 2016 (or simply “SS16,” if we’re speaking in fashion terminology) show season. From post-punk revival, to the harder-edged Gesaffelstein, and finally unclassifiable electro, we’re wondering: were the featured garments of each show really meant to be the center of focus after all?
Off-White Women’s SS16 [Mixed by Paris, IL]
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“Supreme is my Louis Vuitton,” Virgil Abloh, designer of streetwear label Off-White, said in an interview with GQ. He’s worked alongside Kanye West since the early 2000s as his creative director, but recently, the designer-visionary-musician joined forces with Guillaume Berg of Bromance Records to form the production duo, Paris, IL. (Listen to their 45-minute curation, entitled “This is Just a Mixtape,” here). The two treated Gesaffelstein fans in their soundtrack for Off-White Women’s spring presentation: the music kicked off with his latest release (out now on the Maryland soundtrack), “A Pledge,” followed by “Human Nature” and “Wall of Memories.” Sampha’s drifting vocals in “Indecision” effectively ended the obscure presentation.
Gesaffelstein – “A Pledge”
Gesaffelstein – “Wall of Memories”
Sampha – “Indecision”
Gosha Rubchinskiy SS16 [Mixed by Buttechno]
Buttechno‘s soundtrack for Gosha Rubchinskiy could stand on its own as an industrial techno mini-mix. Listening to its audio alone, you wouldn’t guess that it was created to provide audio accompaniment for a fashion show. Gosha’s spring collection itself references the ’80s underground scene of Russia, with abstract silhouettes and “1984” motifs. Buttechno likewise classifies his own music as abstract, illustrating the avant-garde with distorted synths, original samples, and drum machines. It climaxes to a melancholic piano riff, topping off the show’s otherworldly ambience.
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Tracks featured require ID, but with Buttechno’s original productions, we’d rather focus on the listening-vibing-hypnotizing aspect anyway.
Nasir Mazhar SS16 [Mixed by Logan Sama]
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Hat maker-turned-menswear designer Nasir Mazhar’s co-ed spring runway featured street-ready garments in all shades of black. Exemplifying a tougher vibe rooted in militaristic aesthetics, the collection was rightfully backed by British grime DJ, Logan Sama. The mix itself reflects Sama’s Boiler Room mix of a year ago – sampling UK rap and filled to the brim with 808s.
JME – Murking
Xe2 – Mssingno
Gareth Pugh SS16 [Mixed by Matthew Stone]
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Gareth Pugh played homage to ’80s club legend and performance artist, Leigh Bowery. Bouncy, synth-ridden tracks from new wave bands, such as Bronski Beat’s “Smalltown Boy,” emphasized the nostalgic atmosphere. With hair poofed up to here and a soundtrack to match, the show made me crave the club scene of 1980s London.
Toktok & Soffy O – “Missy Queen’s Gonna Die”
Sound Rage – “Meet Her at the Love Parade”
Bronski Beat – “Smalltown Boy”
Thomas Tait SS16 [Mixed by Frédéric Sanchez]
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Apollo 13 and Star Trek come to mind upon first glance of Thomas Tait’s latest showing. Cosmo-centric motifs and Swarovski crystal details bring forth a vision of outer space and stars. Continuing the trend of ’80s-inspired soundtracks, Thomas Tait’s musical selections include new-wave revivalist MADmoizel, finishing with an ethereal, with a hint of industrial, electro track by Canadian producer Egyptrixx.
Jerome Martinez – Valley of Tears
Madmoizel – Come
Egyptrixx – Discipline 1982