How to Light a Fashion Show

A fashion show’s success relies almost exclusively on visual presentation.

This is why an experienced lighting technician is essential. Designers can spend months or years developing their next collection and have no desire to have their work showcased poorly.


A runway stage is unique:

1) the stage is placed in the middle of the audience, rather than in front.

2) the lighting fixtures do not move, but the subjects do



1) the lights must be placed in an extensive way so that the models are always well lit, no matter where they are on stage

2) the lighting must be precise and cannot bleed off of the stage and into the audience


Too little light

This lighting won’t bleed into the audience, but won’t fully illuminate the models.


Too much light

 This lighting will illuminate the models, but will also illuminate the first row of the audience.



This is ideal lighting. The entire stage is illuminated and only a small amount of light runs off the sides, but will not reach the audience.

Best light for this purpose: Ellipsoidals


Pictured above is one of Springtree’s original lighting fixtures, the Profile Spot LED Ellipsoidal.  Ellipsoidals are powerful spotlights commonly used for theater and stage. The beam is powerful and can be adjusted in size to match whatever subject you want to light.


Some ellipsoidals can be DMX controlled and come with gel and GOBO holders to change the color and shape of the beam. For a fashion show, a warm white light is needed to show the natural colors of the outfits.


Lighting front & back

1) Because of the design of the stage, the audience will see the front and back of the models as they walk by.

2) We cannot use a spotlight that points directly down, unless we want to create harsh, unflattering shadows.


Our lighting must come down at an angle so that it hits the models’ entire front and back. This also properly showcases the designer’s clothes


Cross your beams

Hang your ellipsoidal lights so that the two beams create an upside-down ‘V’ shape. Place the lights up and down the length of the catwalk so that light will hit the models and they travel back and forth.



at the end of the catwalk: perfecting the light for photographers

At the end of the catwalk the model will pause for a moment to pose. This is where the professional photographers will snap their perfect shot.


1) At the end of the truss that runs the length of the catwalk, add a second truss to make a ‘T’ shape.

2) Put 2-3 ellipsoidals on the new truss to fully light the models as they pause. This should give photographers all the light they need.


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