25 Iconic Catwalk Moments That Will Take Your Breath Away

Nellie Eden
by Nellie Eden

To celebrate Marie Claire's 25th birthday, we're revisiting the most iconic fashion moments in catwalk history. Here's a shortlist of the bravest, sexiest, funniest, most ingenius runway moments... of all time.


1. Gianni Versace Autumn/Winter 1991

The supers shaking it in super short babydolls was a moment that redefined the word ‘model.’

2. Perry Ellis Spring/Summer 1993

Marc Jacobs’ ‘grunge’ collection was a seminal moment in modern fashion, launching the then relatively-unknown young designer straight into stardom. It also provoked his dismissal, prompting him to go solo. We think he may have had the last laugh.

3. Jean Paul Gaultier Autumn/Winter 1992

How can you top a conical bra? Like this. For the finale of Jean Paul Gaultier's 1992 show, Madonna whipped off her perfectly-cut jacket to reveal her very naked bust.

4. Vivienne Westwood Autumn/Winter 1993

Aside from the fact that Naomi Campbell toppled in her skyscraper heels, this collection has become key for its use of tartans and plaids that form part of Westwood’s legendary signature.

5. Gucci Autunm/Winter 1995

Tom Ford made his mark and set the tone of the decade – hello, Kate Moss in a white tuxedo. It doesn’t get more glamorous than that.

6. Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 1999

Car robots spraying graffiti on ball gowns – it’s McQueen all over. This is still one of our favourite catwalk moments in fashion history.

7. Hussein Chalayan Autumn/Winter 2000

His collection Afterwords saw models emerging from pieces of modernist furniture, which appeared to mutate magically into dresses and accessories. A pure genius, Chlayan is consistently pushing boundaries.

8. Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2001

Glass cells were revealed and models posing as mental patients writhed and slithered in mussel shell skirts to impossibly chic pearl-colored cocktail dresses. It was both poignant and beautiful.

9. Yves Saint Laurent Spring/Summer 2000 Couture

A poignant swansong for the legendary designer saw Catherine Deneuve sashaying down the catwalk in his trouser suit and Jerry Hall embodying Hollywood Glamour.

10. Christian Dior Autumn/Winter 2005 Couture

An antique gold carriage drawn by prancing stallions carried Erin O’Connor down the catwalk in an Edwardian-style dress. Enough said.

11. Christopher Kane Spring/Summer 2007

His first collection saw models burst down the runway wearing neon bandage tight body-con dresses and metallic heels. Donatella Versace sent a bouquet afterwards. It was THAT good.

12. Jean Paul Gaultier Autumn/Winter 2007

Coco Rocha trained as an Irish dancer – handy, then, that she opened Gaultier’s highland inspired show with an Irish jig that had the crowd going wild.

13. Matthew Williamson Spring/Summer 2008

Prince was an expected face on Williamson’s front row, that is, before two models (identical twins) began having a boogie down the catwalk. The famously reclusive Prince jumped to his feet and sang his hit U Got The Look to a crazed fash-pack. 

14. Fendi Spring 2008

The Kaiser (dear Karl) staged a runway show for Fendi on the Great Wall of China. It cost £10 million in production, spanned two days in Bejing – and showed a whopping 88 Fendi looks. Phew.

15. Victor & Rolf Spring 2010

Romance was in the air at this particular show, which unveiled cotton candy tulle dresses and rose-covered heels. Vertical shelves of tulle were dashed through transforming ball gowns into things of architectural beauty.

16. Spring 2010 Chanel

This collection marks the re-adoption of two previously heathen items back into fashion religion – clogs (not seen since their abandonment way back in the '70s) and temporary tattoos. Oh, and there was also a ménage-a-trois in a haystack and Lily Allen singing. Of course.

17. Chanel Autumn/Winter 2010

Hello, Chanel, again. Karl Lagerfeld is without a doubt the master auteur and we love this show for the yeti-type models. Genius.

18. Louis Vuitton Autumn/Winter 2011

Here's Marc Jocobs doing what he does best – fetish and Mossy. A leather-gloved Kate smoked a sultry cigarette to close the show. Fashion. Magic.

19. Jil Sander Autumn/Winter 2012

Simmons created peerlessly beautiful dresses and coats for his last show at Sander. The audience stood and cheered until a notoriously shy Raf appeared, weeping for a moment to face his encore.

20. Louis Vuitton Autumn/Winter 2012

This extravagant, $8 million custom train was a 21st century fashion phenomenon that steamed through the Louvre as the clock struck ten. Getting back to the fashion house’s roots in luggage, the underlying business message was neatly captured by the white gloved porter who carried a model’s case.

21. Burberry Autumn/Winter 2012

The Burberry catwalk show finale began to a crack of thunder and a simulated rain storm sent water streaming down all sides of the vast transparent marquee while the audience watched from within. It finished with models sheltering under their famous umbrellas. Beautiful. 

22. Chanel Autumn/Winter 2013

The whole world was quite literally a stage as a huge globe provided the backdrop at a classic Karl Largerfeld show that stayed true to Coco’s simple rules of black tailoring – and yet still managed to epitomise grandeur.

23. Saint Laurent Autumn/Winter 2013

A show entirely without reverence or homage. Hedi Slimane brought his own brand of Californian Grunge that had little do with Yves. Whilst some deemed it treacherous, others applauded his audacity and hailed the collection as genius.

24. Givenchy Autumn/Winter 2013

Tisci's beautiful A/W13 collection showcased wet-look kiss curls, floral prints, a Bambi motif and biker jackets. On each guest's seat was a manifesto, handwritten by Antony Hegarty, entitled 'FUTURE FEMINISM'. Anthony performed three songs at the show, including the powerfully heartfelt You Are My Sister to the accompaniment of a full orchestra, while dressed in a black Givenchy robe.

25. Lanvin Autumn/Winter 2012

It isn’t over until Alber sings. Alber Elbaz celebrated his 10th anniversary at Lanvin by singing Que Sera Sera. He dedicated the song to all the people in fashion who had helped him, 'realise his dream'. 'I love you,' he added.

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