The Jacquemus SS17 show began in inky darkness; guests waited with a whispered hush of anticipation. Out of the black, a orb of orange beams began to glow, growing stronger until they were blindingly bright. And only as they peaked, demanding their audience’s attention for one momentary more beat, the first model appeared. Walking in an oversized, organic blazer and flat straw hat; it felt as she walked along the industrially sparse catwalk in the Jardin des Tuileries that even though she wore the first look, the show had begun already minutes before, in that soft cocoon of silence. Such is the magic of French set and show designer Alexandre de Betak who, having produced more than a 1,000 catwalk shows, events and exhibitions over the last 25 years, is now the subject a beautiful new tome from Phaidon.
Over the course of the career, Betak has revolutionised the way in which collections are shown, offering an approach which is both architectural and theatrical; spectacular and nuanced. Written thematically across ‘In Situ’, ‘The Set’, ‘Light’ and ‘Performance’, Betak: Fashion Show Revolution unpacks how and why Alexandre de Betak, and his organisation Bureau Betak, have set new a agenda in fashion and the way in which clothes are received.
The book covers career highlights such as his ongoing work for Christian Dior, John Galliano, Hussein Chalayan, Rodarte and Raf Simons, as well as spotlighting sensational moments like the Victoria’s Secret show – the 2000 webcast famously ‘broke’ the internet when it aired, long before that Paper magazine cover with Kim Kardashian.
Alongside photographs from these major shows are countless behind-the-scenes images, documenting the more candid, playful moments behind these memorable spectacles.
With an introduction from fashion writer Sally Singer, this celebration of a great creative mind is also told through contributions from de Betak himself, the Rodarte designers and Jeffrey Deitch, who sheds fresh light on the process of presenting fashion to modern audiences.
In a social media age, the power and lasting impact of these transient creations is a powerful testament to de Betak’s vision, and the book a vital document of one of the industry’s most transformative and innovative figures.
Betak: Fashion Show Revolution, £69.95 is available now.