Last night I went to see the latest production from the Royal Ballet, Polyphonia/Sweet Violets/Carbon Life, featuring three separate pieces put together by British choreographers Liam Scarlett, Christopher Wheeldon, and Wayne McGregor. The show began the way an average theater goer might expect an evening at the Royal Opera House to unfold, and although the dancers were no doubt incredibly talented, elegant, strong and very good at their craft, it was all a bit predictable.
The real show, for me, began in the third act when dancers clad in costumes by fashion designer Gareth Pugh (who was once a ballet dancer himself) appeared behind a gauzy screen, illuminated by glowing side lights, creating an ethereal, almost halo effect as they moved from one side of the stage to another. The screen then rose to reveal an on-stage band that remained at the back for the duration of the show starring Mark Ronson on the bass guitar who was then joined by an all star cast of singers, rappers and musicians including Boy George, Hero Fisher, Alison Mosshart, Jonathan Pierce, Andrew Wyatt, and Black Cobain. The combination of the sometimes understated (and sometimes not) costumes, upbeat, more melodic live music and fabulously graphic lighting was the perfect match and made for a modern, pop culture inspired performance.
Since my last post covering the use of interactive technologies at London Fashion Week 09, I thought I’d take a fresh look at how the fashion industry is using technology to bring itself closer to its audience this season.
Live Streaming of Shows
London Fashion Week continued to expand their Digital Schedule this year, almost doubling the number of shows that were available to watch live online. This is a further step to increasing the accessibility of London shows to a global audience, allowing not only fashion bloggers a front row seat, but also giving the wider public a live ‘insider’ experience of shows which would previously not have been accessible to them.
Realising the potential of this new ‘public’ audience, Burberry set about introducing their own ‘Retail Theatres‘. By installing huge 20ft wide screens, a real-time shopping experience was created using iPads for in-store shoppers to pre-order items as they were walked down the catwalk. Even the makeup used in the show was available to pre-order via the iPad app, all live and seamlessly integrated.
“We are now as much a media-content company as we are a design company, because it’s all part of the overall experience. So it’s a big deal. It’s changing the whole system of buying, and the whole cycle of production. Basically you can buy every bag that goes down the runway and every coat and all the make-up as well.” - Christoper Bailey – Creative Director at Burberry
Following Henry Holland’s ‘buy beside the catwalk’ Blackberry app last season, an increasing number of smaller designers have also been taking pre-orders alongside their online steams. JW Anderson reported that boots from his last show completely sold out from real-time website pre-orders, before his show had even finished.
Being a popular phone brand of choice amongst the fashion community, Blackberry themselves decided to launch their own campaign ‘London Fashion Catwalk‘. Combining green-screen video and integration between their website and users phones, Blackberry invited users to ‘Strut their stuff’ on a virtual catwalk which superimposed participants onto a Blackberry video runway.
Showstudio decided to take their fashion week coverage to a new level, recruiting a high-tech Barbie as the latest member of their blogging team. Armed with a built-in camera and microphone, Barbie captured all of the latest action from both catwalk side and backstage, all of which was frequently uploaded to her own blog throughout London Fashion Week.
Augmented Reality Using Face-Tracking
We also saw designers themselves bringing technology directly into their shows. Following her world-first Augmented Reality presentation last season, Carrie Mundane aka ‘Cassette Playa’ yet again wowed audiences with an interactive installation to present her latest work. Using touch-screens and face-tracking technology, pieces from her latest collection were magically augmented onto a live video of the users face, allowing them to virtually ‘wear’ her designs.
New York shows some serious competition
‘Target’ completely blew audiences away with their amazing interactive dance and light show, which took over a whole building and all of it’s windows in one of the biggest fashion spectacles New York Fashion Week has ever seen. Check out the video here:
Back in London and continuing the theme of light, JW Anderson used lasers to create his catwalk finale spectacle. Lastly, taking a slightly different approach to lighting, wig maker Charlie Le Mindu literally lit up the runway with an electronic LED headlamp and light-up bra pieces. Definitely one of the more unusual ways we’ve seen a designer integrate technology into their work this time round…
So, that’s all for this season! Until next time you can find out more about Digit’s research into Luxury and Digital in our latest white paper here. Look out for Digit’s latest fashion project also launching in our portfolio very soon…
Firstly, big big big shouts to everyone who made Resonate awesome. Two days of mashing Art and Culture with Technology featuring some of the greatest artists, coders, designers and musicians around […]