Across the world people are familiar with the image of tall, slender models, dressed in a designer's latest creations, strutting down a long runway, the audience staring upward with flash bulbs popping all around. The model pauses at the end, turns and walks back as the next comes out. What most people aren't familiar with is the construction of the stage these models walk on, without which there would be no show.
The fact of fashion shows is that there are no specific dimensions required or even average among fashion shows. As with decor, lighting, music and models the runway is most often designed to what most fits the look of the clothes and atmosphere or the show. Fashion shows are also often designed around the size of the space and the capacity for the crowd, adjusting length and width of the runway around the space available.
One rule of thumb in designing a fashion runway is that the length is generally two-thirds the length of the room. However, length can range greatly due to a number of factors including the type of clothes being show, as some may be easier to take long walks in than other or may require a longer look to fully appreciate, and the amount of models involved, as shows with fewer models may want shorter runways to limit the amount of walking the models may do. Similarly, runway length may vary due to the time needed to change the models between walks.
Fashion runways are generally thin, only a few feet across. Again there is no hard and fast rule for runway width, however major concerns include the number of models that may be traversing the runway at one time, where they may cross and the volume of the clothes shown. A thinner runway may be more difficult to walk or show off bigger designs but a wider runway doesn't allow as many people into the room.
The height of a fashion runway often depends on the handling of the audience. Standing audiences typically need a taller runway, typically around eight feet high, while seated audiences could use a four-foot-high runway. It should be noted however that falls have occurred on the runway and a higher platform could lead to injury.
Designing and a building a custom runway is an expensive process, thus rental runways are available. These runways are 28 feet long, 8 feet high and include carpeting, a backdrop, speakers and lights.