5 digital artists discuss reimagining the fashion show

Since the Covid-19 pandemic closed borders and made mass gatherings impossible, designers have been forced to find innovative new ways to showcase collections virtually. In November 2020, Gucci hosted GucciFest, a week-long mini-festival showcasing 15 short films from up-and-coming designers such as Bianca Saunders, Priya Ahluwalia and Charles De Vilmorin.

Since then, we have seen Demna Gvasalia presenting Balenciaga’s Fall/Winter 2021 collection with Afterworld: the era of tomorrow – a cross-platform experience that was built using the latest virtual reality capture technology – and next week, social networking site IMVU will host a digital parade featuring Collina Strada, Gypsy Sport and Mowalola, among others .

While fashion has already dabbled in this field (Louis Vuitton and Prada have both dressed characters from League of Legends and Final Fantasy games respectively), the past year has seen a new generation of designers – including Hillary Taymour of Collina Strada, Casey Cadwallader at Mugler and Marine Serre – engage with digital artists seeking to push the boundaries of what can be achieved with emerging technologies.

Here, some of these creatives talk about the new digital frontier in fashion.

Two of the collaborators Hillary Taymour tapped to work on her pre-Fall 2021 video game and film Collina Strada, which premiered as part of GucciFest, were French-born multidisciplinary artist Freeka Tet and the animator Jefferson Wenzel. The latter also worked on Taymour’s Spring/Summer 2021 presentation, animating characters illustrated by artist Sean-Kierre Lyons before developing some of those ideas for the video game.

Tet turned Wenzel’s video game into a movie Land Collina and collaborated with Taymour again on its Fall/Winter 2021 presentation, turning the likes of playwright Jeremy O Harris and model Ruby Aldridge into Animorphs– inspired characters.

Collina Strada pre-fall 2021.

Jefferson, after working on the SS21 animation, what were some of the ideas you wanted to develop for the video game?

“Video games can provide a level of engagement that I think traditional media sometimes can’t. It was about creating something that was both fun and communicative, and video games are the perfect medium, especially for the fashion world. Fashion is visual, just like video games. Traditional fashion shows are certainly a great demonstration of a brand’s visual identity, but being able to play the role of a model wearing pieces from a collection and exploring a virtual world with them is particularly memorable.

Freeka, would you like to see fashion designers go digital in the future?

“I’d be interested to see them work more on selling design only (3D models, patterns), so you can just have bespoke clothing, based on a design, and then limit production to what’s needed.”

Marilyn M. Davis