We love watching runway shows during fashion week, we do, but sometimes a collection calls for something a little more extravagant, a little more unique, a little more—death-defying. Some of the most shocking fashion runway shows in the world have been held thousands of feet in the sky, underwater or set models on fire—seriously. While it seems designers are always trying to outdo one another, there a few “runways” (and we use the term loosely) that pretty much take the cake. Fair warning—if you’re afraid of heights these are totally not for you.
Entrepreneur/model Jessica Minh Anh has a tendency to organize fashion shows that are not for the faint of heart. Coordinating the first runway on Singapore’s Gardens By The Bay’s OCBC Skyway, her J Spring Fashion Show 2014 was held 82 feet above the ground on a 420 foot long runway. The show included designs by men and women’s brands including Chinese fashion house Tina Couture, British Menswear brand Mark Marengo and Singapore’s very own fashion brand Fuchsia Lane.
Since Anh is clearly a lover of heights and vertigo-inducing runways, is it any surprise she’s the mind behind the show on the PETRONAS Twin Towers' SkyBridge? Holding the J Spring Fashion show in March of 2012 at the SkyBridge in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the event was the first of its kind—not only for height and location, but in variety of presenters. In conjunction with 10 designers from 10 different countries, the event showcased the work of Limkokwing University students. The pièce de résistance was a cake dress worn by Anh, designed by a student who won an international design competition.
Ridiculously high catwalk? Check. Never been done before? Check. Then it must be Anh. Taking heights to a new level, she coordinated the first runway show over the Grand Canyon on the crystal-clear Skywalk. The “floating” glass-bottom bridge is 4,000 feet over the canyon floor, adding to the dramatic backdrop of the collection. As the stage for the J Autumn haute couture and ready-to-wear collection, the models had to walk the bridge in heels and just pray they didn’t look down—or trip—it’s a long fall.
While heights are quite terrifying for some, it almost pales in comparison to lighting yourself on fire. For the 2007 Taurus World Stunt Awards, stuntmen were honored for their contributions to filmmaking—and you know these guys weren't going to give a little speech and be played off stage. Mid-event a runway show begins that had male and female models strutting their stuff down the stage—with their bodies completely lit on fire. It was clear these stuntmen (and women!) enjoy their work. Needless to say this was one hot runway.
If fire isn’t your thing you could always take the plunge with an underwater runway show. While the thought of spinning, twirling and doing a little turn on the catwalk, all while wearing pounds of traditional Korean clothing (sans air tank!) gives us the willies, the swirling clothes do look pretty cool. To celebrate the opening of a new Lotte department store in Seoul, Korea, models donned brightly colored traditional garments and took to the water. While it’s a little more wet fish than the Little Mermaid, we’d take it over setting ourselves ablaze.
For thrill-seeking models in the world it doesn’t get any better than a base-jumping fashion show. Titled High Fashion, models Roberta Mancino, Giovanni Silvestri, Andrey Karr, Luca Tondelli and Maurizio Di Palma all flew through the air on camera for the sake of Italian style. Commissioned in part by Roberto Cavalli in conjunction with Go Pro cameras, supermodel (and real-life daredevil extraordinaire and skydiving record holder) Mancino pairs up with those well-dressed men to show off their new Cavailli duds—all while free falling off Monte Brento in Italy. Oh, and she does this all in heels.