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

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.

Paying Forward: Supporting Emerging Avatar Apparel Designers in SL

 

In the first weeks of my Second Life™ experience, I met a generous, warm woman who became one of my best friends in this mad maze of pixels.  Lexa Pietersen was an ardent supporter of my early efforts to establish myself as an avatar apparel designer, and her support extended beyond just saying nice things.  She went so far as to buy land for me and carry the tier on it for my very first store.   Because of her support, I was able to  move on from my first 512 meter plot of land in the mainland to become one of the top earners in Second Life with my brand Prim & Proper and ultimately owner of the Shengri La islands and a substantial RL corporation.

It is now time for me to pay forward her kindness.  To this end, my company, the Fashion Research Institute, Inc., has developed the Shengri La Vintage Marketplace on Shengri La.  We will provide vendor space for 20 emerging avatar apparel designers on our Second Life Shengri La sim for six months free of charge.  The designers are encouraged to build their brands, to sell their products through both their vendor prims and through the use of our catwalk system, and to grow their business.  We hope that by providing these designers with incubation space on the beautiful Shengri La sims, that they will be able to grow their business to the point that they can acquire an appropriate flagship store elsewhere on the grid when their tenure with us is up.

We are pleased to announce Michele Hyacinth as Curator of the Shengri La Vintage Marketplace for emerging avatar apparel designers in Second Life.  Michele is responsible for managing the design selection process and overseeing the marketplace.   For more information and details about the program, please contact Michele.  You may also visit the Shengri La sims and pick up information from any of the Marketplace boards. To apply, send Michele a notecard with your name and best time to contact you in Second Life.  Include a couple of sentences about the work you’re doing or hoping to do, and if you have any snapshots, add those to the notecard too.  Then send it along to Michele, and she’ll be in touch!

Best of luck to you, and may your dreams come true!

~Shenlei Winkler
CEO
Fashion Research Institute, Inc.
Acting CEO
Black Dress Technology, Inc.

Shenlei Flasheart in SL

Michele Hyacinth 

“Michele Hyacinth rezzed in November 2006.  Her first venture into the virtual world quickly led her to ballroom gowns and flexi hair and an immediate hankering for SL fashion.  She also soon discovered a penchant for talented people of integrity, whose artistry she greatly admires.  She loves sharing SL adventures with treasured loved ones and friends.  She enjoys exploring the grid  and, of course, dancing and listening to good music.  Michele is particularly fond of the hidden surprises in SL…those paths that are less travelled but that contain fascinating finds.  In her spare time, she dabbles in photography, blogging, and very minor prim-wrangling (all skills she hopes to develop more fully).  She sketches portraits, which she brings inworld and shares with those she loves.   Although not rezzed yesterday, she can probably best be described by lyrics from a John Haitt song:  “a child of the wild blue yonder.”  Michele continues to learn and to grow; to be surprised and to be delighted.   She treasures this wonderful opportunity to work with Shenlei, and to collaborate with cherished and like-minded souls in the Shengri La community.”

Fashion Runway in Shengri La Hope

Are you a new designer or a designer who enjoys designing just for the pleasure of designing? Do you want a beautiful environment with a fully functional catwalk system, in which to show off your work?

The Fashion Research Institute has deployed a completely scripted fashion catwalk in the Second Life (TM) sim Shengri La Hope.  The location features two fully functional runways with scripted poseballs loaded with popular modeling poses and a runway walk, and scripted spotlights that follow the model as she walks the runway.  Draped canopies and curtains feature a range of draperies from which to choose.

All Grid citizens are welcome to use the runway free of charge on a first come, first served basis. Individual designers may reserve the runway in advance, and full estate management is available with 2 weeks advance notice, and depends on estate manager availability.  Estate management includes security, media stream change, estate setting changes, and privacy controls.

Visit Shengri La Hope and pick up a copy of our runway show manual and rules to use the Fashion Research Institute, Inc. catwalk.

Our thanks to Chelsie Goodliffe and Ravenn Darkstone for modelling on the runways of the catwalk.