The revelatory work of luminary New York-based lighting designer, John Torres, has gained worldwide recognition and imprinted the identity of the most prestigious fashion runways, music stages, operas and fashion publications.
Masterfully telling stories with light, each of John’s installations is conceived to create a specific perception of the place and its environment. Along with his decades of collaborations with theatre director and visual artist, Robert Wilson, and some of the most renowned photographers including Steven Klein and Craig McDean, notable projects have included advertising campaigns for Balmain, Alexander Wang and Jimmy
Choo; editorial projects with Vogue, Vogue Italia, V Magazine, and W Magazine; and monumental projects ranging from Richard Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde at Theatre Royal La Monnaie in Brussels to Solange Knowles’s acclaimed HOLLYWOOD Bowl performance and the Givenchy runway show in New York directed by Marina Abramović.
Revealing light’s true nature, John’s artistic installations embrace not only the source but also its interaction with volumes and surfaces to reveal forms, textures and colors. Pushing the boundaries of designing with light, his art explores its different facets and reveals its emotive power.
Marshalling the transformative power of light, Torres has created unique and memorable atmospheres for the fashion industry. Whilst expanding the boundaries of runway modernity through custom design light-scenography.
His career has seen him create imaginative runway lighting for some of fashion’s biggest names, from Proenza Schouler to Kanye West.
Lighting designer John Torres collaborated with the house of Gucci on their iconic show which was live-streamed from famed Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, unveiling their new collection.
John worked with the brand to bring creativity and culture together in a post-pandemic rebirth, lighting the iconic boulevard to compliment Alessandro Michele’s second collection in the centenary year of the house. In keeping with the house’s “Changemakers programme” via Gucci Equilibrium, Gucci supported the communities of Los Angeles through donations to organizations that tackle issues including mental health and homelessness.
Thom Browne partnered with Torres for a New York Fashion Week collection that reinvents classic American uniforms. The presentation was showcased at The Shed’s Griffin Theatre in Hudson Yards, opening the show with the unveiling of a one horse-headed figure. Two models begin to act out a storyline within the garden themed presentation space. Lighting is used to create hues of crimson and violet, highlighting the silhouettes and tailoring and merging with the asymmetry of the collection.
Proenza Schouler’s SS22 project partners with Torres in a New York skyline show production. A strong palette is seen throughout, with a monochromatic base exposed to injections of vibrant pinks, yellows and oranges amongst a range of graphic prints. The collection is highlighted by Torres in a romantic light with undertones of city street hues of blues and white light.
For Brandon Maxwell’s Fall/Winter 2018 runway show, staged at the Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Torres collaborated with set designer Marla Weinhoff and music director Sebastien Perrin to create a brand-new environment for the iconic space. Torres created an ethereal light-scape with pink and blue hues, fog, and a wall of moving light from which the models emerged, while a panoramic landscape of New York City served as the backdrop for the intimate theatre transformed by an incredible group of artists.
For his 10th anniversary with Givenchy, creative director Riccardo Tisci partnered with Torres and performance artist and art world celebrity, Marina Abramović, on a tour de force on the Hudson River – the House’s first show in New York.
Abramovic’s installation, which spanned the length of a New York City pier, included a diverse assortment of surreal happenings including, but not limited to, women climbing ladders, llamas, grand pianos, Serbian folk singers, cellists, and violinists, which were interspersed throughout the space.
With guests arriving more an hour before the show began, there was plenty of time to take in the beautifully lit installations high up on plinths as artists performed in delicate vignettes against the changing backdrop of the setting sun.
The world of Hermès collided with the spectacular, creative vision of Torres and theatre director and visual artist Robert Wilson at Cedar Lake in New York’s Chelsea arts district. Working together to present a surreal, off-kilter realm centered around Hermès’ home collections, the performance-driven installation, entitled ‘Here Elsewhere,’ was a captivating articulation of the label’s values.
Equally rooted in Hermès’ rigorous craftsmanship and its propensity for disarming fantasy, ‘Here Elsewhere’ revealed itself in three parts in which Wilson’s signature approach to sound, lighting, direction and theatre came into full force.
Seeking to articulate contrasts between physical materiality and timelessness of creative imagination, the balance between rigor and fantasy, ‘Here Elsewhere’ was an original installation work within which video portraits and live performers interacted with collections from the Hermès Maison Universe, crafting a unique relationship between man and objects.
“Here Elsewhere set a new standard: blurring the lines between showroom and theatre.”
“It is an abstract time/space construction. What we hear, see and smell can counterpoint and complement one another. Without light, there is no space. Einstein said, ‘Light is the measure of all things.”
Kicking off its birthday celebration, Gucci opened a new exhibit in the heart of Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, tracking the Florentine house’s most influential pieces over the decades.The boutique is stocked with the new Gucci 100 collection that has song lyrics plastered across ready-to-wear and accessories, and is equipped with a fun see-and-say type music wheel that highlights popular Gucci-themed songs with interactive features.
At this location, shoppers will find an offering of everything from monogrammed luggage sets and outwear, to tried-and-true house icons, like suits and slip-on loafers, now featuring musical prints.
Between the Gucci-fied walls are velvet covered rooms, each curated with a distinct vibe. One is dedicated to the house’s new fine jewelry offering, while another is reserved for its logo-emblazoned items, including the Balenciaga-hybrid Hacker Project pieces from Fall 2021.
In Collaboration with Torres, Gucci 100 pop ups juxtapose classic architecture with LED and white reflective floors that mirror the collection, celebrating rich history and modern style. Music, like any other party, is central to the Gucci 100 experience, as Gucci guests can discover playlists in-store, comprised of songs from different decades that namedrop the legacy label.
"The centennial, for me, represents an opportunity to bear witness to Gucci’s eternal vitality that year after year, is reborn, it renews itself, reestablishing an unusual relationship with contemporaneity as a boy, forever young, observing the world with a powerful vision,"
Alongside his runway shows and installations, Torres has created luminous and inventive light projects for the advertising campaigns of some of the world’s most prestigious brands, including Alexander Wang, Jimmy Choo, and The Macallan. For its Fall 2016 campaign, Balmain partnered with Kanye West on a resplendent, monochromatic video featuring his track, ‘Wolves.’ Directed by Steven Klein and brilliantly lit by Torres, the video and still images starred West, Kim Kardashian West and a slew of creative director Olivier Rousteing’s favorite models including Joan Smalls, Jourdan Dunn, and Alessandra Ambrosio.
“In addition to Kanye’s music talents, he's got an amazing cinematographic instinct.”
Torres’s meticulous exploration of light phenomena makes him highly sought-after by the editors of fashion’s most illustrious publications. His impressive editorial CV includes lighting sumptuous celebrity and model spreads for Vogue, Vogue Italia, V Magazine, and W Magazine, among others.
Collaborating regularly with Steven Klein, Torres’s meticulous exploration of light phenomena has led to memorable and award-winning music video commissions. Recent projects have included Nicki Minaj’s ‘Chun-Li,’ which featured the rapper wearing outlandish outfits of glowing neon lights and sparkling gems; Brooke Candy’s diamond-encrusted music video masterpiece, ‘Opulence,’ styled by Nicola Formichetti and featuring visually arresting scenes of the rapper dressed in various bejeweled outfits and face glitter; and the opening film of Madonna’s Rebel Heart World Tour, which played to sold out audiences around the world during the tour’s 82 stadium and arena concerts.
Illuminating the stages of iconic contemporary musicians and living legends alike, Torres has imagined specific and contextual light installations for Florence and The Machine’s performance at BST Hyde Park with creative direction by Willo Perron, and Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall, which premiered on PBS’s ‘Great Performances.’
Torres has also served as Lighting Designer for Solange for several years, beginning with her 2017 North American tour at iconic venues such as the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, and Radio City Music Hall in New York.
"I designed this set, sketched it out....creative directed the show , choreographed and musical directed it, Griffen Fraizen rendered my sketches, and the incredible John Torres brought my lighting design to life !"
Setting up interactive playgrounds where light becomes a medium for dialogue between the architecture of the set and the viewer, Torres’s theatrical light installations have included the L.A. Phil’s staggeringly ambitious new production of Meredith Monk’s ‘ATLAS’ with visual artist Es Devlin; ‘The Mile-Long Opera,’ a citywide public engagement project that brought together 1,000 singers from across New York for a free performance on the High Line; and the Robert Wilson-directed performance of Georg Friedrich Händel’s ‘Messiah’ from Mozart’s adaptation, at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris.
In ‘The Black Clown,’ a world premiere musical theater experience that fused vaudeville, gospel, opera, jazz, and spirituals to bring Langston Hughes’s verse to life onstage and animate a Black man’s resilience against a legacy of oppression, Torres cast giant shadows on a scrim, lit from behind, and made dramatic use of overhead and sweeping spotlights, footlights, and bright bulbs fully surrounding the proscenium arch.
The Mile-Long Opera, a citywide public engagement project, brought together 1,000 singers from across New York for a free performance on the High Line in October of 2018.
Co-created by architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang, with words and lyrics by acclaimed poet Anne Carson and Claudia Rankine, The Mile Long opera: a Biography of 7 O’Clock is an Ambitious, collective, free choral work that shares personal stories from hundreds of New Yorkers about life in our rapidly changing city.
"Then there are the silhouettes of the performers, which multiply and divide as shadows cast from behind vast scrims. (John Torres did the marvelous lighting.) These are shadows of a past that is always present".
The Black Clown is a world premiere musical theater experience that fuses vaudeville, gospel, opera, jazz, and spirituals to bring Langston Hughes’ verse to life onstage and animate a Black man’s resilience against a legacy of oppression. The production features Davone Tines (Crossing and Run AMOC!Festival) in the title role, an ensemble of twelve, and a new score by Michael Schachter (Run AMOC! Festival).
John Torres casts giant shadows on a scrim, lit from behind, and makes dramatic use of overhead and sweeping spotlights, footlights, and bright bulbs fully surrounding the proscenium arch.
American director and visual artist Robert Wilson’s production of The Messiah (Der Messias) is a version of Georg Friedrich Händel’s Messiah from Mozart’s adaptation. Premiering in January 2020 at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, The Messiah incorporates Mozart’s music as a means of comfort and light during difficult moments, choosing to focus on spirituality rather than religion.
Shakespeare’s Hamlet is directed by Yaël Farber, an award-winning director, and features Oscar-nominated Irish actress, Ruth Negga. As one of the most revived and renowned Shakespeare plays in history, Farber’s version includes the stories of politics, vengeance, and madness, but couples it with a ground-breaking and contemporary take on the play.
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