Ralph Lauren celebrated its 50th anniversary at New York Fashion Week on Friday night, with a star-studded affair that kicked off with an immersive installation.
Held at the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain in Central Park, guests were welcomed into the venue with a journey through the brand’s history. Enormous LED screens towering like sculptures played some of the designer’s most memorable collections, while iconic campaign imagery was next projected across the walls of a tunnel. Ralph Lauren himself narrated the tale.
The show that followed saw a diverse cast of over 150 models, followed by a dinner, with guests including Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and Kanye West. It was more than just a fashion week show, and rather a slice of Hollywood entertainment.
The company called it “a multi-brand, multi-generational celebration of the World of Ralph Lauren and the next chapter of iconic American style”.
Chief marketing officer Jonathan Bottomley added that it was all about storytelling and the power of a story. He accordingly built the event out online too, with a strategy that spanned IGTV, WeChat, Line and live streaming, as well as via 125 digital influencers and celebrities.
That move was aiming to build on the success of last September’s show in the designer’s classic car garage, which saw over 1 billion social media impressions.
For those who weren’t there in person, the digital strategy now extends in person, with the installation otherwise appearing at the brand’s Madison Avenue flagship in New York, and in additional locations worldwide in the coming weeks.
Building on the brand’s see-now-buy-now strategy, a selection of the 50th-anniversary collection has also been made available to buy immediately following the show, both online and at the brand’s flagship stores, as well as via key partners including Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.
In a continuing use of technology, Ralph Lauren was also awarded Design Legend of the year award by GQ magazine last week in London, for which he beamed in via hologram.
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Fashion and technology are increasing bedfellows, but at no time of year do we see experimentation between these two worlds integrate more than during fashion week season. In the past, we’ve been welcomed by drones flying overhead at Fendi, virtual reality adopted at Topshop Unique, and Google Glass (ahem) walking down the catwalk at Diane von Furstenberg. More often than not, such moves are part of an elaborate scheme to generate press headlines and consumer interest as the shows become re-engineered to appeal to the public rather than the trade audience they once were.
Meanwhile, in the technology realm, corporations are turning to the fashion world to a greater degree than ever before too. Apple teamed up with Hermès to launch a special luxury edition of the Apple Watch in 2015, while Virgin Galactic announced a partnership with Y-3 (the adidas and Yohji Yamamoto line) to create the outfits for its future astronauts, pilots and passengers (as pictured above).
So all of that got us thinking: If budget were no issue and innovation truly knew no bounds in the traditional fashion houses of New York, London, Milan and Paris, what dream technology tie-ups would we really love to see hit the catwalks? Read on below for everything from artificial intelligence to Elon Musk’s Hyperloop playing a part.
Call them all a gimmick, but they beat another Instagram takeover or Snapchat reveal… no?
Burberry and the invisibility “poncho”
Wearable technology has been pretty disappointing from a fashion perspective thus far. Smart watches and fitness tracking devices aside, the only thing that’s ever really stood out is Hussein Chalayan’s animatronics-based show in 2007, which presented the idea of clothes that changed shape. The question on everyone’s lips now then, is when will tech advancement actually hit the design of our clothes? Fibre science is the key, with smart textiles evolving so they’ll eventually be able to do everything from alter colour to indeed shift shape as Chalayan imagined. The one to really be excited about though? Scientists are exploring the way refracted light creates the bold colour of the Morpho butterfly in a bid to understand how we can create that much-desired invisibility cloak. Given the success of Burberry’s monogrammed ponchos, our first technology wish would be for such a collaboration on the London Fashion Week catwalk. Magic.
Alexander McQueen’s global holographic show
Speaking of illusions, we’ve seen a number of holograms being used in fashion shows in the past, from Polo Ralph Lauren’ 4D water projection for spring/summer 2015, to Alexander McQueen’s Kate Moss trick (as per the video above) in 2006. But these concepts are improving all the time. What if we took the idea further and had tele-presence technology in place so that when McQueen’s show occurred in Paris, it could also be seen in Shanghai, Dubai, Moscow and São Paulo at the same time – with a different audience but the same models, looks and experience portrayed. A win for VIP customers around the world.
Louis Vuitton as sponsor of the Hyperloop
Transport around fashion weeks is constantly troublesome for attendees. Heavy traffic, poor weather not to mention high heels makes for a laborious experience, especially if you’re in it for the full month of shows. If only there were some speedy way to get from one venue to the next? Or one city to the next even. Elon Musk is who we need, and more specifically, his vision for the Hyperloop – a high-speed transportation system enabled thanks to a reduced air pressure tube that could carry pods at up to 700mph. Originally imagined to run between Los Angeles and San Francisco (with an average travel time of 35 minutes), we quite fancy a short version of it like the High Line in New York to take us from say Milk Studios to the new Hudson Yards. Or from Milan to Paris perhaps. As far as luxury travel goes, Louis Vuitton inevitably springs to mind. Even more appropriately, it already ran a campaign with Buzz Aldrin some years ago (as pictured above), so has an interest in space travel, meaning its team is bound to get along like a house on fire with Musk, who does of course also run SpaceX.
Alexander Wang and data visualisation
Last year, fans of Swedish designer Ida Klamborn were able to watch her Fashion Week Stockholm show from home via virtual reality using Google Cardboard. Better than that, they were also able to leave feedback on their favourite looks, providing data that showed in real-time on robots put in place to represent them on the front row. Those sorts of insights are hugely valuable for a brand, but what about if they could be gleaned from the audience of influencers actually present too? London-based science and design company, The Unseen, unveiled a sculpture called EIGHTHSENSE in 2015 that changed in colour based on the wearer’s brain patterns. Created in collaboration with digital studio Holition, it read EEG data through a headset and reflected different signals accordingly. That sort of sentiment analysis could make for a beautiful visual feast during a fashion show (albeit potentially a controversial one), if the audience were looped up in the same way. This one’s got Alexander Wang written all over it.
Gucci’s downloadable dreams
While we’re on the subject of the brain and data, dream reading is another science being explored. What could we do if we could not only understand dreams and be able to re-watch them, but also share them from one person to the next? By monitoring electrical activity in the brain it’s not impossible we’ll get to that stage; even a future where we can interact with what we’re experiencing too. Apply that to fashion week and perhaps we’ll have a future show taking us one step on from virtual reality and instead able to enter the dream of the designer and eventually manipulate what they see. We’ll take an Alessandro Michele at Gucci dream tonight; perhaps a Miu Miu one tomorrow.
Net-a-Porter and the 3D printer
One of the most concerning issues with fashion weeks as they stand, is the distinct separation between the digital experience consumers have with such events, and the lack of ability to buy the actual products shown. Usually it takes up to six months for the collections to hit the shop floor, by which point the hype generated at the reveal has all but died. Numerous brands are now looking to release items in-season in a bid to capitalise on the engagement achieved, but it’s a complicated model. Which is why 3D printing could be interesting, particularly as such tools become more able to create materials as soft and supple as what we’re used to wearing. Imagine a future where Net-a-Porter, as the luxury e-commerce giant in the space, can offer looks from the catwalk (rightfully gained from the designers) ready “for print”. Customers would be able to download their styles and customise them as they go.
Tommy Hilfiger’s shared deep learning
One thing always missing from fashion weeks in my humble opinion: live commentary of the shows, preferably from the designer themselves. Short of ruining the experience of the event – the music, the set, the lighting – a lot could be achieved by sharing the thoughts of the creative director relevant to each piece as it comes out, especially if such insights could be personalised. Enter artificial intelligence. If Hermès is working with Apple and thus perhaps they’ve got Siri, then how about Tommy Hilfiger and Google Brain? Imagine a process of deep learning enabling the machine to understand what every audience member has bought, featured in their mag, mentioned on social media, reviewed positively or otherwise in the past. From there, it would be able to temper its commentary accordingly. By knowing the new season inside out too, it would be able to provide live intelligence to the viewer via in-ear headphones as the show takes place, helping them do their job better and enjoy the experience all the more as it goes.
Chanel’s robot plant
We’re used to elaborate and theatrical sets during fashion weeks – with everything from a supermarket to casino or airport terminal playing out at Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel in recent years. In a well-rounded view of future tech, and one step on from its data centre last season, the French fashion house will turn to robotics for it’s next endeavour. Imagine a robot plant ready to create the dystopian future of man versus machine we’re so used to seeing from Hollywood. Conveyor belts would circle around the floor churning out next generation robots created as lifelike as in film Ex Machina, but this time kitted out in next season Chanel of course. There’d be the Cara, the Kendall, the Baptiste… even the Karl. While this sort of humanoid artificial intelligence is somewhat of a controversial move (have you seen the end of that movie?), there’s a lot to be said for also having a robotic version of Lagerfeld’s cat Choupette. It doesn’t, after all, get more Instagram-worthy than that.
It’s goodbye Hedi Slimane and hello Anthony Vaccarello quite literally on Instagram where Saint Laurent has wiped all of its previous posts on the @YSL account and replaced them with a single portrait of its incoming creative director Vaccarello.
The desire for a clean slate is not a surprising one – providing Vaccarello with the chance (if on Instagram alone) to start afresh with his vision for the brand.
Such erasing of history hasn’t been met kindly by fans however. Comments on the now single image, include: “Why delete Hedi Slimane’s work? Wtf”, “You deleted everything from Hedi’s tenure !! Bye b*tches”, “I found this very disrespectful towards Hedi’s work”, and: “That’s cute about Anthony but why take down Hedi’s photos? Hedi’s DNA will no [doubt] be continued. No issue with a new creative director but why erase the past 4 years?”
Many of the other comments show fans both disgruntled and hopeful about the changes. “We weren’t [buying] Saint Laurent, we were buying Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane…no more Hedi Slimane…no more Saint Laurent! I’m sure they’ll lose a lot in revenue from 2017…another Pilati unselling era ahead!” reads one.
Another by comparison: “Vaccarrello for YSL makes sense to me. He reminds me so much of an early 90s Tom Ford. I have been observing Anthony’s work on Versus and under his namesake brand.. a fresh modernist approach is what this maison needs rn. Someone who can bring some sharp sex appeal and sophistication back. I’m sure he’ll do magic and will be a great fit. Meanwhile, Hedi with his punk rock + grunge vibes was tiresome af. I wish all the best for his career though.”
YSL has over 386,000 fans on Instagram. It seems no noticeable changes have otherwise been made on Twitter or Facebook.
Marc Jacobs is celebrating its 30-year anniversary with an online gallery of never-before seen imagery.
The content dates back to 1984 when the partnership between Marc Jacobs and Robert Duffy began, and so far features everyone from Sarah Jessica Parker and Winona Ryder, to Christy Turlington.
Reads one of the posts on the site: “Robert Duffy created 10 original company guidelines to help ensure the success of Marc Jacobs Intl. He reminds us that we must always foster an environment that encourages risk taking, maintain irreverance, and most of all, always have fun!”
The content can also be found collated across social sites under the hashtag #MJ30. The designer has released two exclusive items alongside the campaign – the Timeline Tee and 1984 Tee.
Below then, are 10 of the posts you loved the most on F&M this year. It’s an interesting collection, nodding to familiar ideas like storytelling and crowdsourcing, as well as higher quality content, and a general reassessment of what it is that actually works in this space. Video content does of course also have its place, as does the continuing power of celebrity.
The latest ad for Chanel N°5’s starring old footage of Marilyn Monroe is getting an enormous amount of TV airtime in the run-up to this year’s holiday season. Gift inspiration one might assume…
The 30-second spot is based on a newly-discovered recording of Monroe from 1960 talking to Marie Claire editor-in-chief, Georges Belmont. Explaining her famous quote of only wearing Chanel N°5 to bed, as per her 1952 interview in Life magazine, she says: “You know, they ask me questions. Just an example: ‘What do you wear to bed ? A pajama top? The bottoms of the pajamas? A nightgown?’ So I said, ‘Chanel N°5,’ because it’s the truth… And yet, I don’t want to say ‘nude.’ But it’s the truth!”
The ad is accompanied by archive footage of the late actress. It follows on from the French fashion brand’s ‘Marilyn and N°5 – Inside CHANEL‘ film in 2012, which explains the history of the star’s relationship with the fragrance, and also airs the recording. This two-and-a-half minute spot has had over two million views on YouTube.
Chanel will also launch a print campaign this season based on an archive image of the star posing with a bottle of the perfume shot by Ed Feingersh.
Below, then, are the 10 posts you loved the most on fashion & mash this year. It’s an interesting collection, seemingly tied together by tangible experiences over purely inspirational concepts. We’re talking physical pop-up platforms, real-time shoppable integrations, heavily interactive images and of course, wearable technology hitting the catwalk.
Thank you for reading and look out for a very exciting update from us early on in 2013!
It’s great to hear therefore, the team has launched a browser verison. At www.valentinogaravanimuseum.com, users can now explore the archives of the designer within their internet journey. There are still a couple of hoops to jump, such as downloading a plug-in, but the overall result is simpler, more appealing and should help up traffic.
At the original launch last year, Valentino Garavani’s business partner Giancarlo Giammetti spoke about keeping the virtual concept exciting by staying abreast of technological change. He also promised frequent content updates to the museum, including new drawings and videos.
That is finally happening with the web browser launch too. Two new videos have been added: one from Valentino’s collaboration with the New York City Ballet (as below), and the other of the recent presentation of his Commandeur de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres, in Paris. Hopefully there’ll be more to follow.
The site also has a dedicated homepage (before the plug-in) featuring news, pics of the week and an ‘In the Press’ section – nice for SEO and further suggestive of more regular content updates.
“This song is in tribute to Chloé, Chloé women and celebrating 60 years of all of us, it’s our theme tune in a way. So to all who have supported, designed for, bought, worn, written and talked about, shared, followed, loved and lusted after Chloé, we say thank you – this is for you. Enjoy!” reads the write-up.
This 26th and final letter also sees the archive – created by digital agency Guided Collective – become an “intimate invitational tool” from Monday. Users will be able to type in the name of a friend and send them a bespoke version of the Chloé heritage, relative to the letters that make up their name (demonstrated below).
“As [founder Gaby Aghion] once used the alphabet to inspire creativity and fun, we want you to continue the journey and introduce this wonderful story to a friend,” it says.