Hey, Quick Question: Are We at the Club or a Fashion Show?

Designers have been experimenting with black lights on the runway and glow-in-the-dark looks this season.
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Anja Rubik walks the Saint Laurent Fall 2019 runway show. Photo: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

Anja Rubik walks the Saint Laurent Fall 2019 runway show. Photo: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

Welcome to our column, "Hey, Quick Question," where we investigate seemingly random happenings in the fashion and beauty industries. Enjoy!

Runway show spectacles are nothing new, but one type of attention-grabbing setup in particular has been on the minds of designers, especially during the beginning of fashion week in Paris. On Tuesday, Marine Serre invited showgoers to an underground wine cellar in the suburbs of the French capital and the venue was tricked out with smoke machines and laser beams that would put Jennifer Lopez's "Waiting for Tonight" music video to shame. 

Under the runway's black light, Serre's signature crescent moon-printed bodysuits in nude illuminated a neon-tinged purple color instead — a fitting visual for the designer's apocalyptic-inspired Fall 2019 collection, titled "Radiation." Some of the models' beauty looks incorporated the effect, too, with tiny LED lights placed just underneath their eyes.

A look from the Marine Serre Fall 2019 collection. Photo: Courtesy of Marine Serre

A look from the Marine Serre Fall 2019 collection. Photo: Courtesy of Marine Serre

Later that evening, Anthony Vaccarello presented his latest '80s-tinged work for Saint Laurent, concluding his Eiffel Tower-based show with a day-glo party of sorts. After the last look, the runway lights turned off and models did a final lap in glow-in-the-dark ensembles and accessories, from acid-orange feathered mini-dresses to neon-yellow sunglasses, belts and pumps. 

By the end of a long day of seeing collections, we couldn't help but wonder: Are we at the club or a fashion show?

A look from the Iris van Herpen Spring 2019 couture collection. Photo: Imaxtree

A look from the Iris van Herpen Spring 2019 couture collection. Photo: Imaxtree

These examples from the Fall 2019 show circuit in Paris were only the most recent; a number of designers have been experimenting with black lights on the runway and glow-in-the-dark accessories this year. Back in January, Iris van Herpen's Spring 2019 couture show finale featured transparent heels that lit up as a laser light show of circulating clouds by artist Nick Verstand took place. "Indeed, you know a designer is on to something when it's the shoes you remember from a runway finale," wrote Elizabeth Paton of The New York Times.

That same month, Virgil Abloh was on to something similar. His sophomore men's collection for Louis Vuitton had its own dazzling ending: As the venue went dark, models showed off rainbow-gleaming, logo-covered duffle bags and sneakers. As our timeline of events suggests, did Abloh inspire this season's string of light shows on the catwalk? We can't say for sure, and it's likely that this type of memorable presentation has been done before. But what we can say is this: We know exactly what we're wearing for our next night out.

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