Fashion Or Fantasy?

Sometimes you will see a collection on the catwalk which does not stop running through your mindafterwards.

One such noteworthy example was last year’s Burberry Beijing show, although not because of the fashion house’s sweeping lapels or floor-skimming flares – but because the models themselves actually duplicated, disappeared and burst into snowflakes all before the audiences very eyes.

Welcome to the world of holographic fashion; a world which has combined real time with virtual time, light and sound in order to create some of the most memorable, multi-sensory fashion displays of our era.

In our ever-increasingly digital age, one that has seen that little Apple sign become about as potent as a tequila slammer, the British fashion industry is not alone in its endorsement of digital art. Various creative directors have been quick to harness the trend, seduced by its ability to offer a different experience to that of a normal runway event and a sure-fire way to get everyone talking.

Technological take-over

Alexander McQueen paved the way for digital fashion back in 2006, with the use of a life-size floating image of Kate Moss for the finale of his autumn collection. The 3D hologram appeared over the runway showing Moss wearing a McQueen dress that floated around her to the sound of strings and even louder applause.

This was followed in 2008 by Diesel’s Liquid Space show, which saw models pace up and down the runway alongside a host of hovering CGI (computer-generated imagery) characters; including neon mermen, aliens and robots.

High end fashion houses are not the only ones to have have jumped on the digital bandwagon. Last May LA-based, cheap-chic emporium Forever 21, held a hologram-only fashion event to celebrate the opening of its first store in Vienna. The seven minute show saw holograms of models donning the budget retailer’s latest looks, struting up and down invisible stairs and along the ceiling before exploding into a shower of diamonds.

Although digital fashion undeniably looks and sounds impressive what makes it such an appealing force for those working within the industry?

According to marketing manager for Laura Ashley, Hayley Williams: “While it’s new and fresh holography is something that we are going to see blossom all across fashion outlets; from runway to shop floor. It’s a great way to get everyone talking by offering a visual experience with endless outcomes, making it so much harder to forget.”

The price of perception

Aside from the creation of a strange augmented reality and the transfiguration of models into an array of weather elements, Burberry’s embracing of digital art saw a 34 per cent rise in revenue in the quarter following the Burberry Beijing show.

Allowing light scattered from an object to be recorded and later reconstructed, holograms produce precise three dimensional images of real objects; images that you don’t need 3D glasses in order to see. Unfortunately this type of high-tech digital art comes at a price, with the simplest of holographic projectors costing as much as £15,000.

According to fashion film director and founder of Lauren Mary Davis: “Fashion forecasters have guided the supremacy towards the financial forces of digital advertising, which has gained worldwide audiences through implementing fashion film, blogging, live streaming and rapidly developing interactive software. Now, because of exciting developments in moving image technologies, both students and acclaimed image makers can easily access professional editing suites and HD cameras.”

Digital dimensions

Today, most designers employ the medium of fashion film to market their new collections through digital mediums such as YouTube and Twitter. Adding a sense of depth and enhancing the viewer’s understanding of the product, these short movies offer a personal insight into the designer’s creative progress – one that is often hard to grasp through catwalk runs alone.

“Movement, sound and light combined with motion picture naturally creates a fuller and more intimate expression of the collections, which most designers say, stay truer to their personal vision,” says Davis.

With it already becoming a favourite among fashion houses such as Gareth Pugh and Charlotte Taylor, moviemakers are encouraged to explore this world of fashion filmography.

In an arts industry that has become more competitive than ever, staying ahead of the game is crucial. With UAL benefiting from over 50 courses with more than 20 in film studies, there is a world of unexplored avenues right on your doorstep. So whether it is venturing to the media cupboard to borrow a camera or posting an advert for a budding designer on Facebook, fashion film is the future. You never know who might be watching.