A Cemetery, A Smallpox Hospital, and More Creepy Fashion Show Venues

5:00 AM 9/15/2016

by Sam Reed

Because catwalks aren't always carnivals.

Simon Miller's presentation at New York Marble Cemetery
Stephanie Chan

Fashion shows aren't always the bright and cheery spectacles that Instagram would fool you into believing they are. This season alone, shows have been staged at an abandoned small pox hospital (Yeezy) and a cemetery (Simon Miller, Tracy Reese), In years past, a funeral parlor and, perhaps the scariest of all — Brooklyn — have set the tone for ambitious designers. 

  • Imitation of Christ's Funeral Parlor Show

    Henry S. Dziekan III/Getty Images

    For its inaugural show, Imitation of Christ laid all its cards on the table — er, coffin. The brand presented its fall 2001 collection at an East Village funeral parlor, giving all the appearances of a very real and very fashionable funeral.

    Designer Tara Subkoff, whose celebrity friends Chloe Sevigny, Natasha Lyonne and Scarlett Johansson were big supporters of the brand before Subkoff went on hiatus in 2006, made it a habit to push the definition of "fashion show" — by staging presentations set up like a Sotheby's auction, a wedding and even "a depressed circus."

  • Yeezy Season 4's Show at an Abandoned Smallpox Hospital

    Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

    As a follow up to his Yeezy season 3/Life of Pablo extravaganza, Kanye West corralled (kidnapped?) showgoers and shuttled them on buses to Roosevelt Island — a 2-mile long strip of land located in the city's East River.  

    It wasn't until they arrived on the island, however, that attendees noticed the precise location of the show: An abandoned smallpox hospital which was once used to treat infected patients in the 19th century. The presentation itself carried on in the lawn outside the hospital, however there was no denying the presence of the crumbling fortress in the distance.

  • Simon Miller and Tracy Reese's Cemetery Shows

    Stephanie Chan

    Springtime in the cemetery? That's what designers Tracy Reese and Simon Miller had in mind this season. Both chose New York's Marble Cemetery as the backdrop for their colorful collections, preferring the en plein air vibe to a stuffy, indoor runway. 

    Each also preferred to refer to the shared venue as an open air field, rather than a cemetery, as the presentations were held around the corner from the headstones rather than among them. However, there was no getting around the eerie vibe.


    A photo posted by Tracy Reese (@tracy_reese) on

  • Baja East's Parking Garage Show

    Stephanie Chan

    Thanks to neon pink and blue lights, the parking garage that Baja East designers Scott Studenberg and John Targon chose for their spring 2017 presentation had more an '80s disco club vibe than a horror movie-in-the-making vibe. But the bright venue was not without its drawbacks. 

    The lack of air conditioning or ventilation of any kind left the space suffocatingly hot — not ideal on an already warm day in Manhattan. Attendees used show notes as fans while they waited for the presentation to begin, complaining all the while about the thick heat. Sweating in designer digs? Truly a nightmare. 

  • Alexander Wang's Brooklyn Show

    Getty Images

    You could almost hear the fashion editors gasping as they opened their invitations to Alexander Wang's fall 2014 presentation, which was hosted in — wait for it — Brooklyn.

    The eco-friendly Duggal Greenhouse, positioned right next to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, was the venue of choice. And while the collection itself was generally well-received, most reviews opened with gripes about the hour-long trek in the cold, rather than a statement about the clothes. Since then, several other labels have staged shows in the fine borough, including Rag & Bone, and this season, Thakoon. 

    NO SLEEP TIL BROOKLYN: The Duggal Greenhouse. (Photo: Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images)

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