Names such as Frederic Sanchez, Michel Gaubert, Wilson Chan and Jeremy Healy may not be instantly recognisable but anyone who’s watched a fashion show in the past two decades will be familiar with their work.Between them, they have created the soundtracks to shows from almost every major fashion house, including Chanel, Versace, Prada, Calvin Klein, Vivienne Westwood and Marc Jacobs.As fashion shows have evolved into multimedia extravaganzas streamed live to millions, the soundtrack has gone from being sonar wallpaper to an integral part of the show, defining mood and ambience, its purpose akin to that of a film score.Sound designers produce soundscapes comprising songs, sounds and samples stitched seamlessly together to aurally accentuate every aspect and intricacy of what is being seen on the catwalk.‘When the relationship between image and sound is in perfect harmony, the results can be unforgettable,’ says Gaubert, who has created the music for Karl Lagerfeld’s shows for more than 20 years, as well as Jeremy Scott and Michael Kors.‘I try to tell a story with the music to give a coherence to the whole piece. Even if I mix diverse styles – for example rap and opera – there are elements to link them. There is always a logic.’
It was Gaubert’s work for Chanel and Healy’s seminal sets for John Galliano in the 1990s that proved the turning point for the production of fashion-show music.‘The music gives the clothes their colour,’ Galliano replied, when asked why he placed so much importance on it.‘The music is part of the story and has always played a part in the ambience of a show,’ adds DJ Princess Julia, who also began mixing for shows in the 1990s.‘I started doing some of Antonio Berardi’s first collections, playing live on vinyl as I also did for both Dolce & Gabbana and Versace.‘More recently, I did Louise Gray’s music, which was a great thrill as I love her work.’
New York design duo The Blonds, renowned for their take on high-octane glamour, know better than most about how music and fashion work together. Their clientele includes Cheryl Cole, Britney Spears, Kylie Minogue, Beyoncé, Rihanna, J-Lo and Katy Perry.‘Our work is inspired by our clients, so it’s safe to say they have a lot of influence when creating a score,’ says Phillipe Blond. ‘It’s about what inspired the collection. It’s kind of like a magic brew. We all propose several records, then we’ll edit tracks out and decide the order based on how the line-up of the show looks.
‘We consider ourselves raconteurs when it comes to planning a show. Music, as in a film, only enhances and punctuates that process. It’s typically something we love and will listen to while creating the collection.’