Nick Gray from London, UK based creative lighting design practice Renegade was commissioned to design a scheme for the recent Yojhi Yamamoto "Fashion In Motion" live catwalk show in the Raphael Gallery at London's Victoria & Albert Museum.
Gray was working for show producers Bacchus, a regular client with whom he works on many London Fashion Week events, and for whom he also recently lit Lagos Fashion Week in Nigeria and a concert performance by Beyonce. He has also previously lit a Fashion In Motion show at the same venue for Kenzo
The high profile Yamamoto event featured some classic men's and women's creations from the acclaimed Japanese designer which were also part of a major retrospective exhibition of his work on show at the V&A.
Gray's brief was open other than that the producer's preferred to work in a daylight colour temperature. He also decided to add in a few quirks in keeping with Yamomoto's oeuvre for subverting conventions and expectations. There was limited amount of power in the room so this had to be carefully calculated when creating the design.
The lit environment also needed to compliment the architecture and ambience of the space which houses the 'Raphael Cartoons', surviving designs painted by Italian Renaissance painter Raphael of tapestries commissioned in Rome by Pope Leo X in 1515.
For the first time Gray chose to work with Panalux as Renegade's equipment company partner as they have large rental stocks of all the daylight lightsources that he needed, which included 24 1.2K fresnels, eight 400W HMI Source Fours with a selection of lenses ranging from five to 26 degrees and four 500W HMI fresnels.
The lighting desk was a grandMA ultra-light provided by Renegade.
"It is an extremely special space in which to work," said Gray.
With the incredible history hanging on the walls, plenty of specific treatment was needed to light the catwalk beautifully and effectively for the models, and also fit the surroundings. Working in daylight brought a fabulous radiant quality of illumination in to the Raphael Room. Gray introduced a few theatrical flourishes - like the surprise effect of the models lining up and being enveloped in darkness before popping out onto the runway (a clear section of the floor with bench seating either side). The creative lighting merged methods common to several different disciplines - theatre, fashion, film and art.
The trussing design also brought an industrial look and a sense of form and definition to the room, with two seven-metre high box trusses built as support structures to provide overhead lighting positions above the runway - as there was no other way to achieve this. The 'contrast technique' worked seamlessly as a juxtapositional concept set against the arched ceiling of the Raphael Room.
He explained, "I have worked with Bacchus on many different shows, and we have a great rapport. It was really nice to again be trusted with a design and given the freedom to come up with and implement some different ideas that I knew would work".
Using the daylight sources gave a specific edge to the texture of the lighting and was a shift away from the more genteel approach of using an entirely tungsten rig. With less dimming control over the HMI fixtures, it also meant that the positioning of every single unit was completely crucial.