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NYFW: Live music as the perfect catwalk accessory

February 19, 2009 |  7:14 am

Rage_quartetIt’s interesting that, even with the economy as bad as it is and even though building a runway soundtrack requires nothing more than opposable thumbs and an iPod, some designers will choose to spend their dollars on live music to accompany their shows.

The thought first crossed our minds Tuesday when the Diesel Black Gold show at the Bryant Park tents kicked off with a silhouetted trumpet solo behind a curtain, which soon dropped to reveal a full-on jazz quartet that goes by the name of the Last Minute Orchestra. (We shouldn’t have been too surprised. The invitations were printed on paper that looked like sheet music).

That same night, over at the Hammerstein Ballroom, G-Star Raw’s always-entertaining show was accompanied by a flotilla of musicians, also behind a curtain (though from where we sat, all we could see were two women facing off over back-to-back baby grand pianos.)

The next afternoon, a New York-based quartet called Lissy Trullie rocked its way through the 3.1 Phillip Lim runway show from the top of the catwalk, as fog swirled around the musicians' feet.
The live accompaniment certainly didn’t change the way the clothes looked on the runway, and may not affect the size of the orders the buyers from Nordstrom or Barneys New York may write, but it did accomplish one very important thing –- it underscored the special shared-experience feeling of these shows. That's something that tends to get lost in the “remind-me-again-why-we’re-here?” bi-annual trudgeathon through Manhattan, especially when  photos, videos and front-row Twitter feeds circle the globe before the people in the seats have made it to the lobby.

Now if I could just download 3.1 Phillip Lim Fall 2009 to my iPod, I’d be all set.

-- Adam Tschorn

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Photo: The Last Minute Orchestra, performing at the Diesel Black Gold show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, Feb. 17, 2009. Credit: Peter Stigter / Jonas Gustavsson