Catwalk lighting perfect for highlighting clothes

Lighting for fashion shows plays a key role. It helps in the scenography and creates an ambience consistent with the proposal of the designer's collection. In addition, when done well, the lighting amplifies the clothes, make-up, and the whole concept of the event in a positive manner.


When defining the décor for a fashion show, it is essential to have a complete briefing about the work the stylist will present. It is important to understand the references used and what was inspired by the collection's concept, the clothes, and make-up characteristics.

The show must have an aesthetic that is impeccable and creative. It should bring the concept of the collection that the designer is proposing, helping to make the impression he wants with his clothes. The lighting setup should be creative, but subtle, because it cannot draw more attention than the show itself and the costumes.

Types of light

The light for the fashion show is of enormous importance. It must be well-thought-out to bring impact but not overshadow the clothes and makeup. Depending on the theme of the show and other decorative objects (if there are any), spotlights from above and in-ground lights, the kind found in driveways can be good options.

The purpose of this lighting layout is to highlight the model's clothes and face, and the lights installed on the catwalk serve to brighten from the bottom up, to bring out the details of the lower parts of the clothes, such as trousers, skirts and dresses, and to guide the models as they walk down the runway.

Duane Mendes/Pexels

Lighting awakens sensory aspects and when it is well done, it can contribute to the viewer's perception of the show. Comfort, the precision of the tones chosen in each location, the position of the spotlights, the intensity of light, and good visibility are factors that need to be studied to reduce errors in the lighting of the catwalk.

The colours of the light in this case make all the difference, after all, they should emphasise the shape and texture of the pieces, and not interfere with their colours. The lighting should have a white tone, to emphasise the real colour of the fabric. Coloured lights can be used as decoration and effect, as long as they are not directed towards the models, or the clothes.

The spotlights should project a hard light, to reveal the texture of the clothes, but should not be positioned vertically from top to bottom, but diagonally, to illuminate the face of the model without causing shadows under the eyes. Supporting lights from the bottom upwards helps to soften this problem.

Every light setup should serve to contribute to the show, not ruin it. So, when illuminating a catwalk, the lighting should work following the designer's goal and the clothes presented.

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About the Author

Stella Cooter

Journalist, traveller and mother, Stella writes about fashion and style, luxury and adventure.

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