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  • Writer's pictureErica Schwartz

Runway in Retrospect: Ranking Every F&R Runway Theme from Worst to Best

By Erica Schwartz


Runway in Retrospect is a new blog series by website editor Erica Schwartz on the BU Fashion and Retail Association blog. Opinions expressed in this article do not reflect the opinions of F&R Association as a whole.

This year's Eco-futurism fashion show marks the 23rd that Boston University Fashion & Retail Association (F&R) has hosted since the show's inception in 2009. Over the years,


22. Shanghai Whispers, Fall 2014

Although its designs were much more tastefully done than what would be expected from the cultural appropriation-laden years of the early 2010s, something about the theme still doesn't sit right with me. Let's just say that F&R refrains from this type of exoticisation today.


21. Decades, Fall 2017

Being a vintage fashion collector, I'm usually all for any attempts to highlight vintage fashion (not vintage values!). That being said, the theme of "Decades" feels a bit too general for a fashion show. I'd give it a pass if this were an earlier show in F&R's history. However, 2017 seems rather late to have such a generic theme.


20. Hollywood Glam, Spring 2016

You can never really go wrong with Hollywood glamour, but that's because it's kind of old hat. It's just not as exciting or fresh as you'd expect from a typically boundary-shattering club like F&R. On a deeper level, we have got to allow Hollywood performers to


19. La Fête, Spring 2010

La fête is French for "celebration," and that's just as much as I understand about the theme of this show. So, we are celebrating, but what are we celebrating? I thought the designs would help paint a picture of this theme, but I'm still struggling to find the common thread.


18. La Nuit, Fall 2011

I guess F&R's 2010-2011 executive board really loved a nice generic French article and noun as a fashion show theme. Like "La Fête," I didn't necessarily dislike the theme; I'm just unsure what it encompasses.


17. A Night at the Cinema, Fall 2018

I feel similar about this theme as I do Hollywood Glam. I just think that turning to Hollywood for fashion is not only overdone but feeds into the cycle of celebrity-inspired microtrends that create excess waste.


16. Les Royales,

And, we are already back to French nouns as themes. I think this theme is fun and could be super glamorous and highlight the history of royal dress worldwide. It's more the Miss America style execution of the theme that keeps this theme from ranking higher than others.


15. Nude, Fall 2009

For F&R's first fashion show theme, "Nude" is a wonderful choice. It alludes to the stripped-down nature of this first show. The term "nude" has so many visual associations for designers to interpret as they wish, making this theme a great choice.


14. An International Affair, Fall 2010

This theme is a bit mysterious with a touch of James Bond class.


13. Wanderlust: Discovering Global Fashion, Spring 2017

Although similar in theme to "An International Affair," I think this theme's execution was better.


12. Glow: A Night of Fluorescent Fashion, Fall 2013

Now we're getting into "Okay, that's actually really clever!" territory. This theme is super creative and very fun! While neon was a bit more trendy back in 2013 when the show was held than it is now, I think neon and fluorescent colors are always exciting and add a touch of whimsy.


11. This House of Green, Spring 2013

It's remarkable that F&R has been highlighting sustainable fashion since before it was a greater part of mainstream dialogue. Bonus points for the multilayered greenhouse/fashion house pun!


10. Cirque, Spring 2014

The eccentricity of this theme paved the way for some truly dynamic, one-of-a-kind designs. There are so many visuals that come to mind when one thinks of the circus and designers for this show really managed to hit all angles.


9. Glitz, Glam, Grunge, Spring 2011

Now, this is camp! You can really feel Ke$ha's cultural impact with this one. No matter how often it is done, I will always cave for the juxtaposition of soft and harsh textures.


8. Midnight Masquerade, Fall 2012

Another runway that's just plain fun! Masquerade themes always seem to serve as a great blend of modern and historical attire.


7. Runway to Mars, Fall 2016

Another campy, fun theme. The futuristic theme is perfect for trying new, creative designs and pushing the boundaries of fashion like F&R always seeks to do.


6. Flora and Fauna, Spring 2018

It may seem hypocritical to applaud the broader nature of this theme, but there's something about it's scaled back nature that really speaks to me. The designs from this show were earthy and beautiful, highlighting the intertwining experiences of humans and nature.


5. Changing of the Guard, Spring 2012

This semi-niche nature of this theme seems almost Met Gala-esque. The quality of the designs is also near Met Gala caliber. Anna Wintour, eat your heart out!


4. Behind the Seams, Fall 2015

I love a good play on words, but the real reason this show theme ranks so high is because of it focuses on "bringing awareness to sustainable, fair trade, and ethically sourced brands."


3. La Vie en Rose, Spring 2015

This is the first French-titled theme that I like. Those who know me personally know that I'm rather partial to anything pink. However, this ranking supersedes my own personal bias. This theme not only gave designers a color palette to work with but also the aesthetic and emotional sentiment it invokes. Beyond that, 50% of the show's proceeds went to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.


2. Gardenia, Spring 2023

Similar to the "Flora and Fauna" theme, the title "Gardenia" draws upon natural hues and textures. However, the title "Gardenia" adds an extra level of imagination and the delicate beauty of spring.


1. In the Shadow of the Street Lamp, Spring 2022

And in the winning spot is Spring 2022's "In the Shadow of the Street Lamp"! This theme is clever and specific, centered on the aesthetic of the film noir genre. It is a bit premature to say, but these designs seem timeless, thanks to their designers' inspiration from vintage Hollywood.


What are your thoughts? Where do you think Ecofuturism should fall? Be sure to attend the show today and let us know your thoughts below!

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