7 of the most iconic runway invasions

From cats on the catwalk to banner-bearing hot priests, meet some of the chicest gatecrashers around.

by Mahoro Seward
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05 October 2019, 12:13am

“Last week, I crashed the Etam show, just like that, as I’ve always dreamed of walking a show,’ said freshly minted fashion icon Marie S’Infiltre to Pierre M’Pelé after the show. “I found that it was a little low rent, so I decided to try my luck at the best show there is: Chanel.” Hurdling Vanessa Friedman and bolting to take her rightful place among the models walking the finale, the Chanel-esque suit-wearing French YouTuber almost managed to do a full lap of the roofs-of-Paris-inspired set before being intercepted by Gigi Hadid on her apparent first day as a security guard. Impressive as her stunt was, it’s part of a long lineage of both groups and individuals fucking up fashion shows for the sake of both political and personal clout. As a toast to S’Infiltre’s gusto, here’s a run-through of seven of the most memorable runway stormings in recent times.

Femen at Nina Ricci
Well known for staging bare-chested actions in places like The Vatican’s St Peter’s Square, or Maidan Square in Kyiv, Femen, the Paris-based Ukrainian radical feminist group, have never been ones to shy away from provocative public protest. Back in 2013, two of the group's members chose Paris Fashion Week as the location for their next stunt, making an uninvited runway appearance at Nina Ricci’s SS14 show. That said, this wasn’t the first time the group had set fashion in their sights; they’d previously gatecrashed the taping of Germany’s Next Top Model’s finale (Ms Klum was not amused). Anyway, with their bare bodies daubed with catchy slogans like ‘Fashion Dictaterror’ and ‘Model Don’t Go To Brothel’, they ran onto the catwalk, taking Liverpudlian model Hollie-May Saker by the hand in an assumed act of sisterly solidarity. Though Femen may have experience in publicly fighting the patriarchy, they’d yet to face the wrath of a Scouse woman scorned. “I just punched her,” reported Saker, referring to the reflex-triggered stinger she landed on her assailant’s nose. “My Scouseness came out a bit but I wish it had come out a bit more. Thinking about it now I wish I'd pushed them both off the stage because they ruined my favourite show.”

Brüno
It is frankly irresponsible to write a list of fashion’s top gatecrash moments without a nod to everyone’s favourite fashion TV presenter, Brüno. Counting Iceberg and Stella McCartney among them, the list of shows he’s gatecrashed reads like an industry hit-parade. At one point, such was his notoriety that the Italian Chamber of Fashion urged brands not to admit anyone from his production company to their shows. But it seems that their message must have landed in Agatha Ruiz de la Prada’s spam inbox, because, true to form as ever, fashion’s favourite Euro-twink exploded onto her runway. Garbed in a very derelicte assemblage that wouldn’t look out of place at Comme des Garçons, Brüno owned the runway until the lights were dimmed and Austria’s brightest D-lister was rugby tackled to the ground by a bevvy of burly Italian security guards. Ausgezeichnet!

The SURGE protester at Mary Katrantzou
While the lion’s share of blockbuster runway stormings have taken place in Paris and Milan, gatecrashers on this side of the channel are not to be entirely written off. At Mary Katrantzou AW18, one attendee, a member of animal rights group SURGE seemingly possessed by the spirit of a Dickensian town-crier, took to the runway to condemn the conduct of the front row fold. “Shame on you, London Fashion Week!” she cried. Though most assumed that the protest had something to do with fashion’s use of fur, delicious irony was to be found in the fact that all of the Katrantzou’s fur trimmings were in fact faux.

The D&G streaker
Prior to Femen’s topless protest in Paris, and setting the tone for SS14 as the streaker’s season, was perhaps the most memorable naked runway invasion modern fashion history — no, there aren’t that many, but the Dolce & Gabbana streaker stands out all the same. Allegedly put up to the task by German menswear blog Dandy Diary as part of a marketing ploy, ‘Miky the Streaker’ took to the stage in his birthday suit just as the brand’s designers were taking their final bow. His motivation remains unclear, though many have drawn parallels between his freeballing sprint and Milan’s other great cultural export, football. Whatever his cause, ‘Miky’ proved that the emperor’s new clothes will always earn more attention than whatever else is floating down the runway.

The Dior Cat
Cat on a catwalk — need we say more? That’s right, the most memorable moment of Dior’s Resort 2020 trip to Marrakech was the appearance of a stray moggy on Maria Grazia’s fire-lit spectacle in the El-Badi Palace. Walking against the models’ grain, the kitty prowled with more grace and sass than her human doppelgänger Bella Hadid manages to. In a move more catty than when Naomi Campbell got banned by BA for assaulting a police officer, the kitty then sprayed a front-row attendee’s presumably-priceless dress with piss before slinking away into the crowd. It’s a surprise that PETA didn’t show up to protest the appearance of fur on the runway.

Dan Mathews at Gianfranco Ferré
They did, however, take it upon themselves to show face at the show of Dior’s ex-creative director Gianfranco Ferré back in 2004. No doubt the inspiration for the hot priest in Fleabag, PETA’s Senior Vice President Dan Mathews donned ecclesiastical chic to sneak into the show, claiming to be Ferré’s priest, only to then take to the runway with a banner denouncing the house’s use of fur. Given that the show took place in one of the last firmly Catholic bastions of Western Europe, it’s little surprise that he managed to slip in without so much as guestlist check. “I thought, Italy is a Catholic country, I speak fluent Italian – this is it,” he told the Guardian. “I told the lady with the clipboard I was at the church Mr Ferré attended and he had invited me for good luck.” A very naughty move on the part of a priest, but , padre (daddy?), if we forgive you your sins, will you forgive ours?

Laura Frandsen at RCA
Though graduate shows are typically known for creativity untainted by the industry’s commercial grasp, one of the most memorable moments of 2019’s Royal College of Art show didn’t actually involve any clothes at all. While models sported looks from the collections of her 50 or so classmates, Laura Frandsen and 20 fellow Extinction Rebellion members staged a ‘die-in’ in the show’s midst. The models, some of whom wore 10-inch tall perspex claw platforms, staggered over their prone bodies. Though we often speak of fashion as something ‘to die for’, Frandsen asked: is it really?

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

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