VIRTUAL REALITY AND DEMOCRATIZATION OF HIGH FASHION

FASHION XY

VIRTUAL REALITY AND DEMOCRATIZATION

OF HIGH FASHION 

 

 

Fashion and technology are inextricably linked. This link, particularly today, is much stronger than it ever was in the past. Can Virtual Reality (VR) be the future of fashion and fashion shows?  Let giant brands like Balenciaga, Hussein Chalayan and Dior fancy themselves with 360-degree movie experiences, are the catwalk shows, as we know them, transforming into a history of nostalgia?

 

Alexander McQueen, one of the legendary fashion names has collaborated with famous fashion photographer Nick Knight&rsquos SHOWstudio and live streamed its iconic collection entitled &ldquoPlato&rsquos Atlantis&rdquo on the podium with two gigantic cameras. While the broadcasting of this show has earned him the title of first fashion designer to ever perform such a show, the accepted traditional codes of fashion description has forever changed for us. The fashion industry has taken itself on a completely new level and the hard-to-reach façade of catwalk shows have been eliminated while big budget shows have started assuming a more democratized identity.   

 

Online streaming collapsed when Lady Gaga announced on Twitter that she would showcase her hit single &ldquoBad Romance&rdquo on October, 6 2009 at Alexander McQueen&rsquos Spring &ndash Summer 2010 catwalk show during Paris Fashion Week. With the allure of technology, the fashion community is now making greater efforts to adding more online viewers into the game.

   

It stands as living proof when Balenciaga announced that he would perform his 2016 Fall &ndash Winter show with a 360 degrees VR experience via mobile and tablet apps. Famous fashion house defines its breakthrough with the expression &ldquoA new panorama, for a new era of Balenciaga.&rdquo Explains its gesture as: &ldquoAn egalitarian proposition, allowing a worldwide audience the unique opportunity to view a Balenciaga show like never before&hellip Immediate and real-time for the new creative identity of the maison.&rdquo

 

Even though we did not have much information about the details of how this experience would turn out during the days when the announcement was made, we could already assume that VR headsets would not be needed, at least for this show. Since in all likelihood, the viewers would only move their smart phones to experience the catwalk from different angles or touch their screen to check the camera angle.

 

Balenciaga, was only one of the revolutionaries. Immediately after this, Hussein Chalayan has rolled out that he would render his last catwalk show accessible via the 360-degree online experience. His excitement was even more clearly understood with his own words: &ldquoI'm excited about it. Because it gives the viewer an experience removed from both space and time.&rdquo Working in tandem with the Swarovski brand Chalayan, appearing previously before us with his transformative robotic shapes, clothes brandished with LED lights, in other words, has mentioned us how technology has allowed for universal viewing access to fashion.  

 

 

 

 

By virtue of the 360-degree video technique which has also been favored by Raf Simons, who has also presented Dior&rsquos final show the fashion house, has wanted viewers to experience different angels of the podium subsequent to a catwalk show he presented.

 

Fashion and podium shows are gradually reaching greater numbers and each detail used to be shared on social media venues such as Twitter, Instagram and Periscope. However, the backstage was still clinging on to their secrecy.

 

For Dior, the headset produced by DigitasLBi Lab allows user to peek inside the fashion backstage. The headset reflects on the backstage experiences of models prepping for stage, make-up artists or other personnel.  The headset named &ldquoDior Eyes&rdquo will help serve a more privileged experience for viewers sitting in front of the podium and better interaction with consumers. Another attractive feature of Dior Eyes is that its black body has been created with a 3D printer. With this capacity, it allows for a 100-degree visual angle and users can hear sounds with a built-in headphone.

 

So, how does this entire process work? As Sol Rogers, the person behind Björk&rsquos smash-hit 360-degree video who is also the general manager of the London-based production studio explains: &ldquoCreators have a great deal of choice when it comes to selecting the hardware used to film with. Standard cameras can be adapted for 360 degree shooting with the use of bespoke rigs, this footage is then put through a post production pipeline to &lsquostitch&rsquo the multiple videos together to form a single spherical video. There is also a growing demand for 360 degree cameras which remove the need for such a labor-intensive post production period, such as the Theta S from Ricoh.&rdquo Then, refers to a significant difference: &ldquoThere&rsquos a big difference between immersive pre-recorded video content &ndash 360-degree content &ndash and &lsquoTrue VR&rsquo... And many in the industry object to mixing the two.&rdquo

 

So, what exactly lies behind the sudden interest for VR? Rogers, points out to Facebook&rsquos move in 2014. As you might remember, Facebook has acquired the Oculus Rift developer, a newly found company, without slowing the pace in the past years. The Oculus Rift had come to fruition following a successful Kickstarter campaign and had been supported by John Carmack, one of the experts of the gaming world. The device harbors within a technology that reflects human eyes visual angle and is referred to as the next step for the concept of VR.

 

Once Facebook realized the extent of the potential presented by the VR technology, they acted very timely on knocking on Oculus VR Company&rsquos door for a 2-billion-dollar contract, a widely discussed acquisition signed. The Company has revealed that it would use Oculus Rift technologies for new experiences and that the gaming world would be one of them.

 

Regarding this topic, Rogers mentions the following: &ldquoInterest in Virtual Reality has exploded in the last three years, mainly thanks to Oculus and their CEO Palmer Luckey. They have been at the head of the pack when it comes to HMD (head mounted display) development, and its innovations have been a driving force behind the adoption of VR as the technology continues to improve, more people want to try it which further drives demand for better and better hardware.&rdquo

 

As another saying by Rogers, which might contribute to Oculus Rift&rsquos potential to fashion, goes: &ldquoThe end of this month will see the release of Oculus Rift, one of the world&rsquos first consumer-aimed VR headsets...it doesn&rsquot seem unrealistic to expect that a few years down the line, we might all be getting up close and personal with fashion week from the comfort of our own headsets.&rdquo

 

 

 

 

This absolutely is a clear indication that we are on the verge of a new reform. Even before Instagram was created, such live streams were powerful enough to bring down the elitist and sacred walls of fashion while it exposed the hidden corners of catwalk shows to global viewers. As technology advanced, so did streaming techniques. Watching a fashion show online has been deemed to be almost more exciting than being present there physically. Only Lord knows, what awaits us!

 

Music phenomenon and fashion&rsquos new rebel, Kanye West&rsquos Yeezy Season 3 show could be provided as a recent example. Presenting his most distinct catwalk show in New York Madison Square Garden where West&rsquos &ldquoYeezy Season 3&rdquo collection was displayed, models had stood motionlessly in the center of the stadium. The camera angels picked for this show as well as the in-depth zoom-in shots had provided a cinematic and more so an epic journey to viewers joining the broadcast.

 

 With its increasing allure and growing attention to the 360, it is obvious that the limits of digital democracy is expanding and is gaining momentum with new meanings. Brands are in a rush to offer greater privilege to their followers and consumers. Hot trends like See-Now, Buy-Now, are being embraced by many ranging from Burberry to Prada and are used in different shapes and fields.

 

Meanwhile, the Oculus Rift is up for sale with a price tag of 600 USD. It is much cheaper than a new iPhone. This means that we have not seen the future of fashion yet. It seems that we will have the luxury of living the excitement of the fashion week at any given location with our VR headsets in tomorrow&rsquos world.