In the world of Experience Design, a world I frequent quite often as a Music Designer for major fashion brands, choosing the right music to fit a brand is no easy feat. An errant guitar chord, a repetitive bassline, or an annoying electronic sound can instantly ruin the mood – or experience – for the shopper.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or if you’ve been buried beneath the many inches of snow caused by “Pax”), you probably have heard that New York Fashion Week was last week, showcasing Fall 2014 Ready-To-Wear and Pre-Fall collections from designers around the world.
And it appears our friends over at the Who What Wear blog have taken a stab at matching music with top notch designers, according to their NYFW runway shows. Click here to see the playlist.
While listening to this mix, I was stunned, amused, I even danced a little in the midst of some yoga moves and then I almost cried. Wow – that’s a lot of emotion for one playlist consisting of 45 songs. But then again, we all know that music is emotive; however, should fashion make me cry (in a not-so-happy kind of way)?
I think I’m taking the playlist too literally, all the while trying to figure out what about Jeff Buckley singing his lovely version of “Hallelujah” has to do with coppery and vivid colors at Thakoon. (This was the song I thought was sad and I don’t think the two mesh well together – more like it’s an intentional division with the clothing loud, bright and beautiful and the music soft, haunting and also beautiful.
Then I dug a little deeper and found much of the Thakoon Pre-Fall 2014 collection to be masculine and somber. Perhaps there is rhyme and reason to this after all?
Rodarte, one of my favorite fashion houses, looks to be trying to bring about a 70’s revival with some of their designs. Fittingly, the song that matched this clothing consisting of smocking and crochet is Steve Miller Band – “Wild Mountain Honey.” This song has just enough of an ethereal twinge to it that I do see it matching the typically whispery and glittery swathes of dark fabric. But this time, coincidentally, the colors are softer and lighter!
Two more songs complemented the Rodarte line: Chris Spedding – “Video Life”, still gibing with the 70’s throwback, and then Sonic Youth’s cover of The Carpenters’ “Superstar”, which could certainly influence some of the darker pieces that have different textures while retaining that 70’s feel. These pieces are much more modern, even moving towards space age but with the mismatched tops and skirts, studs, and breezy black chiffon that is classic Rodarte.
Another striking combination is Rebecca Taylor’s Fall Ready-To-Wear 2014 line paired with Kelis “Jerk Ribs”, M0 “Don’t Wanna Dance”, and Natalia Kills “Daddy’s Girl.” The line is tough, modern, cool, but very feminine in some places; “street-chic” if you will, so the pairings make perfect sense as these songs are pretty cutting edge in comparison to others on the list.
Taking things in a completely different direction was Oscar de la Renta with the classical composition of “Symphony In C Major: Allegro” by Georges Bizet paired with flowing, complex ball gowns and no-nonsense ladies’ suits. In this particular case, I could see the music as background but also as a subtle reminder that this is couture at its greatest and to hush until all of the pieces have been seen and the last model has walked off the stage. Oscar de la Renta is a fine wine or a night at the opera.
The last collection that caught my eye is Pre-Fall 2014 Prabal Gurung backed by a remake of “Stand By Me” by Ki: Theory. Structured, sleek, tailored and crisp are these clothes and I could say the same for this song selection. It’s an old classic but reworked and done electronically which matches the slick shoes paired with classic patterns.
Now that I’ve gotten my head out of the designer clouds and back into my day job, the relevance is very apparent. While working on a fashion retailer’s custom program, for example, it’s important to take into consideration so many things: demographics, new trends, price points, colors, the location, the season – you name it. For example, if I’m programming music to steer women towards the stores and to keep them there, a couple of things come to mind right away: Spring collections are in the stores now; I’m seeing a lot of lace and relaxed fit and Dolman tops; and many different patterns and textures for pants and dresses. When I consider music for the spring rendition of this particular program, I’m going to be thinking feminine, flirty, upbeat, not skewing too young, and remaining on trend with what’s hot in music right now. These are a few selections that might just make the cut:
Welcome to a little peek into life as a Music Designer! There’s more attention to detail, detective work and intuition involved than you might anticipate. And doing your research always pays off in the end because you’ll have a happy client whose music matches their ambiance and collections excellently.
– Submitted by Ashley Columbus Plinzke, Music Design