Virtual Fashion at London Fashion Week

I am an avid reader of many fashion bloggers, including Luxury Experts from Sacha Orloff. Why? Well, being a fashion designer myself, I like to keep ahead of the trend on new ideas. A great way to do that is to track a selected group of fashion trend watchers and reporters.  I think fashion bloggers like Luxury Experts have their sights set on emerging trends like, for example, trends like ours using new technology in helping designers develop fashion. For example, today I was reading Sacha Orloff’s article about how “luxury fashion brands like Burberry are embracing the cyberworld.”

I agree with her position that leading brands are already taking steps to become digital leaders and influencers. We saw this quite clearly when Burberry created fashion history last February by allowing viewers to participate in a virtual 3D catwalk show.

But I also see this as only the first step. In fact, it’s why we think Virtual Runway™ is unique and leading charge to using these new technologies to help designers. Fashion designers need new options for getting their designs to market faster and they need the ability to reach a more global audience. A traditional fashion show, such as those you see produced for New York Fashion Week or London Fashion Week cost a lot of money to produce. In fact, a New York City runway show at Lincoln Center can easily tip the scales at $500,000.  Yes, that is a half million dollars, for some major hair-tearing back stage and some fast-paced fashion on the catwalk.

There are a great many wonderful designers whose work is stellar, but because they cannot afford to present a full scale runway show, their work will never be seen beyond a small, local audience.  For so many designers, showing their work on the runway simply doesn’t make fiscal sense.

Attending a runway show and seeing fabulous fashion up close and in person is an amazing experience.  I would never contend that this physical catwalk experience can be replaced.  However, I do think there will be an increasing number of options available to the emerging designer who wants to present their work in a similar format, but without breaking their budget.  For example, Virtual Runway enables designers to quickly and easily present a runway show, and allows designers to not only show their work to media, but also to sell directly from the runway through a few mouse clicks.  Virtual Runway turns a traditional marketing channel into a new sales channel while keeping the original marketing channel value.

Designers are already exploring these new channels, especially emerging designers for whom services like Virtual Runway enables them to have the runway experience at a fraction of the cost of a New York Fashion Week runway show.

Related articles:

Lights, Camera, Action! Runway 3.0 Models Take the Catwalk

Burberry to stream catwalk show in 3D simultaneously across the globe

Stars Turn Out for 3D Burberry Fashion Show

Runway 3.0 Videos

And finally, videos of the Runway 3.0 senior collections, with Missy’s collection at 1:50 and 1:53, and Britt’s collection at 4:18-5:07.  The physical collection are shown in the foreground, with the avatar models strutting their stuff on the LED screen behind the catwalk models.

Backstage Action at Runway 3.0 and Virtual Runway™

Not all the action takes place on the catwalk at a runway show.  In fact, all the preparation goes on backstage whether for a physical runway show or a Virtual Runway™ event.

We arrived in Buffalo at the Peirce-Arrow Building shortly before the first show, at 4 pm, so we missed the initial madness of hair and makeup.  We did, however, get pressed into service before the 9 pm show, where the models had to be fully prepared for the catwalk.  We had one of our other interns, Heather, join us to help backstage in getting our other two interns, Britt and Missy, ready to go.  Big thanks to Heather for jumping right in to help! Later she joined us front row for the show itself.

Both Britt and Missy opted for additional body makeup for their models, so that meant a little extra work in applying gold foil and rhinestones.  Eyelash glue is a godsend! Britt applied crushed gold foil selectively to the faces and bodies of her models, and Missy opted for rhinestones applied on the faces and in lieu of necklaces. Here we see one of the models with her necklace half-applied:

Each of Missy’s three models had a different design on both face and for the necklace.  Stunning!

Britt’s models have gold foil application well under control:

Here we see some of Britt’s models in the foreground, with Missy’s models up on the risers.

In stark contrast to physical runway show, preparing for the Virtual Runway™ presentation was a snap.  For one thing, avatar models do exactly what you tell them to, and the clothing always fits!  Plus, adding additional makeup options is very easy; we created custom makeup and skin tones for all nine of the interns’ models in less time than it took for one real life model to be made up…and we didn’t have to do retouches.

Once the models were dressed and their hair, makeup and shoes chosen, they lined up and just….waited…for their cue to strut the catwalk.  This is of course, very different from the swirl backstage at the students’ physical show. One might almost say it was serene.

Dressed and ready to go in our private OpenSim-based Fashionable Grid™: They await a simple command to strut their stuff on the catwalk .  Once we had the avatar models queued up and dressed, then we brought the students in to watch before we shot video for the screen at Runway 3.0.  The avatar models allowed the students to see their work before their physical runway show.  It was a great experience with them, since runway is usually a very expensive and gruelling experience. In comparison, Virtual Runway™ was a breeze with our students selecting from more than 800 billion customization options for their models.  they got exactly what they wanted on the runway, when they wanted it.  Tomorrow: Virtual Runway™ videos of the student interns’ work.

We are currently accepting applications for our Summer internship program. We have space for 5 more students. To apply, please send email to admin at fashionresearchinstitute.com by June 1, 2010 for Summer 2010 semester.