Lighting a Fashion Runway Show

By DesignDawgs

An Event Where Careers Take Off

It’s a Friday evening and the team of Images by Lighting has been at Barker Hanger at the Santa Monica airport for five days, installing the lighting for an hour-long multi-media fashion show. Now, hours before 3,000 students take their seats for the show by the graduating class of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles, the lighting design team takes one final walk through.


The young fashion designers are making last-minute adjustments to their show, models are primping and ushers are taking their places. Images by Lighting makes a final light check and run-through on a covered box truss will become an architectural element of the show, lending lend added drama to several of the collections.

The statistics are impressive … 3,000 people for each of three shows, 450 feet of truss, 230 conventional lights, 30 intelligent lights, 30 LEDS, 96 channels of changes. And then all of this will be changed out for the gala event on Saturday night when the chairs become round tables for a seated dinner and yet another fashion show.

Images by Lighting

Blocking the show

The main show, called the FIDM Debut, is divided into four segments each with its own graphic design look and lighting design. The first section features collections from graduating students from FIDM’s Theatre Costume Design Program. This year the theme was Jazz. The second part of the show is called Chairing Styles, a creative collaboration between students in three FIDM majors: Textile Design, Fashion Design, and Interior Design.

FIDM Images by Lighting

Then there is the ode to the event’s sponsor, Cadillac in which Cadillac’s art is interpreted through design and fashions. The runway show ends with the collections of the top graduating students; a debut show of graduating students from FIDM’s Advanced Studio Fashion Design Program. From a line of children’s wear and resort and men’s wear, social and even wedding collections, the lighting and graphics were reflective of the designer’s color palette and inspiration.

The team

The team

Images by Lighting is on the site for the five-day set up. On Monday, the truss is installed. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the lights are rigged and focused and there is a dry run of the show. Thursday is the dress rehearsal with the first show at 5:30. Friday night there are two shows and on Saturday, a sit-down gala event.

FIDM 2014 Images by Lighting


“Images by Lighting has been doing the shows with FIDM for the past 10 years,” Ray Thompson, lighting designer, says. “About three years ago we were looking for something new. We’d used all the intelligent equipment there was and veteran producer Jim Watterson, was ready to retire. Then we introduced video mapping. We made the entire hard wall set into a video screen to orchestrate an entire show through video with imagery and effects. Together with Jim, we work hand-in-hand with students and staff in FIDM’s media department to create the imagery that is in the fashion show. They do a great job, and Jim spends countless hours on the images and the music for the show.”

The introduction of video that is used for imagery, branding and background, brought with it renewed excitement. “Jim even decided not to retire so he could explore the possibilities more,” Ray says.

One of three shows down!

One of three shows down!

This year the images at this state-of-the art show were big and bold – textures from nature, art and architecture. Images by Lighting did more than light a fashion show – it shed light on the energy, wonder and excitement of a creative profession and the future of those 3,000 young attendees.

This blog post originally ran on Images by Lighting’s blog on March 25.

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2 comments on “Lighting a Fashion Runway Show

    Phindi 7 October, 2014 at 4:13 am - Reply

    I’m organizing a fashion show and would like to have a quote please for the Runway lights.


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