Hedi Slimane, What Are You thinking?

I don’t usually comment on the runway shows, since you know, there are people who do that for a living and all. But in this case, I just could not resist because this collection is too much like a huge traffic accident with bodies and body parts lying everywhere.

See, some runway collections awe by their beauty. Some collections shock, some entertain, some make sense. Some leave you saying ‘WTF?’

Hedi Slimane’s inaugural collection for Saint Laurent is in the WTF category. Flipping through the runway shots, you could definitely see what inspirations moved SLimane: Phantom of the Opera. Diane Keaton in Annie Hall. Your grandmother’s best jacket for weddings, and other important events. And these looks, which seem to have snuck in from another collection, maybe one inspired by LOTR? and of course, for a final movie reference, So, Jedi Knight You Want to Be?

It is a pretty tight collection, in that everything was black. But any sense of focus or direction stops there. The materials and the silhouettes are busy and incomprehensible. Lace-leather-chiffon-feathers-sequins-more-stuff-my mom’s art studio-Michael’s entire retail bead SKUs. There’s nothing wrong with any one of those materials. The silhouettes were just goofy juxtaposed together: Flowing robes-men’s wear-dominatrix chic-capes-hats.

There were some nice individual looks and features: I particularly liked the sharp men’s wear details and yes, the fedoras, but in a more wearable style. Ditch the pussy bows (yeah, it’s been a YSL feature for a gazillion years, but this collection wasn’t aided by it.

I guess the one nice thing about this collection: no prints. This may sound funny coming from someone who spends a lot of her time developing textile prints, but seriously, have you walked into a retail store this fall? Overdone and ugly prints. We at least were spared that in Slimane’s debut collection.

Well, there’s always next season. Hopefully he won’t be trying so hard and can at least remove the kitchen sink from the next collection.

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

Presenting at FashionCampNY 2010 Saturday, February 20

Virtual goods are hot, and 3D is even hotter!

In this 45 minute presentation, new methods of marketing, sales and development using 3D will be showcased.  You’ll learn about a sizzling new way to showcase your work using 3D in a 24 x7 virtual fashion show. Pick your models, pick their looks, pick your runway, and then select the outfits, garments or accessories you want to showcase..it’s that easy.

Want to go deeper? How about easy-to-use product demo stations, where your buyers can interact with your product offerings, changing colors and patterns.

Want even more? Your buyers can purchase your product directly from the runway; look at tech packs, or anything else you want to show them.  Your buyers are overseas or not easy to reach? No problem. If they have a web-enabled or mobile device, they can get actual videos of your product.   Join us for this visionary approach to marketing your product, and be at the forefront of trend. CEO Shenlei Winkler presents “Virtual Fashion, Real Money” in this 45 minute demonstration at FashionCampNY.

Fashion Camp is a free, volunteer-run, 2-day barcamp-style conference with workshops and presentations focused on current topics in fashion, technology, and innovative marriages of fashion and tech, including fashion tech/wearables, fashion eCommerce, and fashion2.0.

Fashion Research Institute’s Autumn 2009 Fashion Events

Having threaded our way through New York Fashion week, where CEO Shenlei Winkler spoke about Black Dress Design Studio and the related development of the avatar apparel niche market, we are now pleased to announce our planned fashion events for Autumn 2009.

First, we are pleased to continue to work with our emerging designers, and present their work in innovative ways in our Shengri La Hope region in Second Life.  These events enable us to research and prototype new ways of merchandising avatar apparel, with links to our real life colleagues in the apparel industry.  We will be presenting three of these events over the next 8 weeks.


Purple Prose is a showcase of jewelry designer Tiffy Vella, whose unique design vision continue to wow her customers.  Tiffy has been developing a line heavily influenced by the Art Deco period.  An even dozen of her designs will be shown on a dozen gorgeous models at this event, with clothing provided by Debutante.  Purple Prose will be held Saturday, October 17th, at 10 am Eastern, in our Shengri La Hope region.


Mainely Men showcases the corporate clothing of Debutante, the Fashion Research Institute’s lab line.  A dozen handsome models will present corporate men’s wear in a showcase designed to highlight these garments.  Mainely Men will be held Saturday, October 24th, at 7 pm Eastern in the Shengri La Hope region.


Transformation will be held on Saturday, October 7, at 10 am eastern.  Transformation showcases the Cocoon line of emerging designer Yoona Mayo, whose unique perspective and delicate touch have created an elegant line of dainty jewelry.  Yoona’s work will be presented in a unique interactive display in the Shengri La Hope region.

And of course, our interns will present their work at a final runway show in December, with date and time to be determined.


Departing from Second Life and moving to ScienceSim, Fashion Research Institute will be presenting the first ever virtual worlds-based design conference for fashion design students from design organizations around the world.  Threading The Needle will be held Thursday, December 3rd, from 8 am – 5 pm Eastern, with notables such as Beth Harris, Director of Digital Learning at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Fiona Jenvey, CEO of Mudpie, and Elaine Polvinen, Professor of Fashion at Buffalo State University speaking and presenting.  This conference will be completely free for design students to attend, and it is aimed at students studying design for the apparel industry.  Details to follow, but mark your calendar for this.


Fashion Research Institute will again be presenting its Avatar Apparel courses this fall, with Avatar Apparel being presented from October 27th – November 19th; and two new short courses being offered in October, November and December.  Registration opens next week.

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
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.