A brief history of puppet fashion shows

By September 30, 2020 No Comments

You may have heard about Moschino’s marionette fashion show at New York Fashion Week that recently went viral. It was put together by Moschino Creative Director Jeremy Scott, who was searching for innovative ways to showcase Moschino’s Spring/Summer 2021 collection in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Jeremy has worked with puppets before (he’s occasionally dressed Miss Piggy over the years) and he decided to reach out to his collaborators at Jim Henson’s Creature Shop to help bring his idea to life.

He and the Creature Shop’s Peter Brooke recently spoke with Vogue about the project:

Using puppetry in a fashion show certainly isn’t common, but as Jeremy explains in the making of featurette above, using marionettes and dolls for a fashion show isn’t a new idea. The earliest example of a marionette fashion show I’m aware of – and the one I believe Jeremy references – was staged in London during the Second World War:

(watch the newsreel for the marionette fashion show, but stay for the sexist, old timey reporting on the WWA – Women’s Wrestling Association – yet more proof that seemingly new ideas are often anything but)

There’s also this show, which was staged in London several years later (1960) :

Fashion shows aren’t just for marionettes either. Back in the late 1990s I was involved in several fashion shows for Italian-Canadian Designer Sofia Verna that featured life size black light puppets. More recently, British designer Aitor Throup showcased his collection at London Fashion Week on large scale puppets performed by Puppets with Guts. I’m sure there are other examples of collaborations between fashion houses and puppetry companies that I’ve missed.

Special thanks to Ilan at the Israel Puppet Theater Center for sharing Moschino’s marionette show at New York Fashion Week!