Last night En Noir put on their Fall/Winter 2014 runway show called "Tunnel Vision" at the Park Avenue Armory. The entrance to the show was draped in a cavern of black fabric, molded into sharp wrinkles so it looked like the interior of a rocky tunnel. As attendees drew closer to their seats, the size of the tunnel expanded to a gaping mouth that opened onto the runway.
This immersive stage design was the collaborative effort of En Noir's creative director Jason Wolter and the artist duo Snarkitecture made up of Daniel Arsham and Alex Mustonen. The two creative powers have a history of working together. "They're freaking amazing," Wolter said of Snarkitecture before the show. "They can take a vision that we bring to them or something that I have in my head, and they can build it into something like this." Last year, Snarkitecture fabricated a volcanic mountain for En Noir's "Coal Wasteland" presentation at Milk Studios, a show that encompassed Wolter's concept of "fashion theater."
Daniel Arsham talked to us about creating the giant tunnel for this year's show:
Each season Jason will come to us with a kind of general concept. The last project that we did with them at Milk was a cold, all-black landscape. The keyword for this collection and the energy here is “tunnel,” so the first thing we started doing was looking at images. I read an article in the Times about this new subway tunnel that they’re building underneath Grand Central, and in the photos they have this rocky texture, and above that, they put this actual fabric to hold rocks and things from falling when they did the construction. So we did some research and found this material, actually the same material they use in the tunnels.
Part of the thing that we look at and Jason and Rob [Garcia] are very interested in is creating, not just a runway show that people are used to seeing, but something very experiential. So the audience actually walks through this entire experience before they witness the show.
Image via Daily Mail / Construction on the 2nd Ave. subway.
While Snarkitecture focused on the material details of the theme, Wolter explained the philosophical concept behind "Tunnel Vision":
Basically, tunnel vision is focused on one thing. That’s kind of how this world is. Everyone’s just focused on one particular thing—I need those shoes; I need that car. But they’re not really thinking about what’s around them. Perfect example: if it says “low fat” on the label, you get it, right? But people don’t know that it’s super high in sugar. It’s terrible for you. It’s worse for you. Nobody’s really expanding or trying to bring it all in, so that’s the idea behind tunnel vision. But the spotlight at the end of the tunnel [gesturing to the stage design] is the light at the end of the tunnel.
When the show began, the models emerged from one end of the tunnel, surrounded by fog and back-lit by a white spotlight, like dark and beautiful creatures from the deep.