As models walk down the runway, they don’t just seek to flaunt a designer’s clothing – they also aim to evoke some emotion and reaction from the audience. Some designs make us want to wear them, while others are so weird and wacky that it makes us wonder why they were made in the first place. But the most intriguing fact about fashion shows is that not all of them feature ready-to-wear clothing.

High fashion shows by the most coveted designers in the world often showcase conceptual art – clothing that pushes the boundaries of what’s considered wearable. You’ll see gowns that appear like sculptures, costume-like creations, and shows that collectively aim to tell a story. Everything in a fashion show, from the makeup to the setting, works together to captivate and impress the audience. Because these presentations are a way for designers to freely express their visions, some are so lavish and grand that they’ve left a lasting impression on the fashion world.

Chanel – Haute Couture Fall Collection

Chanel is known for its haute couture whimsy. Think Linda Evangelista in their spring 1992 Ready-to-Wear collection in the enchanted forest, the seriously curvy runway for their spring 2002 show, and their 2014 supermarket chic fall fashion show. So, it was very on-brand for this fashion house to host their runway in a place as quirky as a casino. With the boom of online gambling and sweeps casinos lately, it only seems fitting to cover this particularly glamorous event.

The creative mind behind it? None other than Karl Lagerfeld – the creative director of Chanel since 1983. He was feeling lucky when he came up with the concept and even luckier when his invitations to celebrities Kristen Stewart, Julianne Moore, and other stars went through. They gambled at tables as the show progressed, the models sporting glitzy and theme-consistent bead-encrusted gowns, cocktail dresses, and trouser suits.

Jacquemus – Lavender Fields in Provence

Potentially, the most stunning and dreamy landscape a fashion show has ever been set in is the Valensole lavender fields. As the expanse of lavender is only in full bloom for a single month, it was a rare and exceptional place for the Jacquemus spring/summer show in 2020. The natural beauty and shining sun made sense around the 500-meter bright-pink runway placed between the rows of purple sprigs, complementing the saturated color scheme of the collection titled “Le Coup de Soleil.” Models wore relaxed summer clothing, including utility shirts, oversized blazers, and organic accessories in straw, crochet, and similar materials. The audience saw every color imaginable – bright yellows, muted oranges, zesty greens, the list goes on.

Fendi – Great Wall of China

It doesn’t get more extravagant than a runway show on one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Fendi’s spring 2008 collection was set on a section of the Great Wall of China at the Juyongguan Pass, surrounded by one-of-a-kind views of the emerald-green Guangou Valley. The culprit behind the idea is, yet again, the renowned Karl Lagerfeld, who had been the fashion editor for the brand since 1965.

This exorbitant spectacle cost the fashion house $10 million, which aligned with the exquisite luxe collection clothing. Models strutted down the catwalk on platform heels, wearing a blend of silks, furs, and Fendi’s signature Baguette bags.

Yves Saint Laurent – World Cup Final

In 1998, France won the FIFA World Cup, beating Brazil 3-0. To complement that victory, French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent carried out a 15-minute fashion show to celebrate his 40 years of work. Thanks to the World Cup audience of 80,000 and TV audience of 1.7 billion, it easily became the biggest fashion show ever in terms of viewership.

Three hundred models participated in the show, spotlighting six different themes that demonstrated the versatility of the house since 1958 – pop art, Eastern, glamor, and more. The Stade de France became a twofold spectacle that day, with professional soccer players exhibiting their athletic skills and the many models parading Saint Laurent’s designs.

Chanel – Carousel Ride

In true Chanel fashion, the brand showcased their autumn/winter 2008 collection on a carousel ride. But rather than majestic horses and circus animals, the carousel featured some of the brand’s most recognizable icons, including a big bottle of Chanel No. 5, a quilted 2.55 bag, and a Chanel boucle jacket. The pieces worn were classically Chanel, including silk blouses, tweed skirts, chiffon pieces, oversized sweaters, quilted bags, and plenty of other ready-to-wear items. This sensational set weighed 20,000 pounds and took five weeks to carve and five whole days to install.

Dolce & Gabbana – St. Mark’s Square

The Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda Show in Venice was so grand that it featured a lightning strike and a rainbow. It seemed that even the heavens above knew this event would be a staple in fashion history and blessed it with nature’s beauty. On top of that, it was teeming with celebrities such as Monica Bellucci, Jennifer Lopez, and Christian Bale.

The show was Italian craftsmanship at its finest, where the audience marveled at incredible velvets, crystals, embroidery, unique fabrics, and luxury silks, all integrated into ornate looks. It was clear why the city of Venice was used as a backdrop, considering the harmony between the models’ attire and the historical architecture. Everything down to the wigs the models wore was perfectly inspired by Venice, with 43 wig colors that ranged from copper to sapphire.