When it comes to wearing clothes, actual physical garments are probably preferred on a day-to-day basis than virtual ones. But that doesn’t mean the concept of virtual clothes should be completely ignored. A recent project by Dutch artists Pinar&Viola saw the duo create a holographic catwalk show for an entirely VR clothing range, all showcased on a real model during Amsterdam Fashion Week.
The clothes were imbued with characteristics likes eyes and mouths, turning them into animated characters informed by the theme of animism, the belief that a soul or spirit exists in everyday objects.
“We believe that people buy, throw, and mistreat their clothing because we do not feel connected with the inanimate objects around us,” explain Pinar&Viola to The Creators Project. “That is the reason why, with this catwalk experience, we intended to make people emphasise with their clothing the way they do with their friends, by creating a catwalk experience where the spirit of the dress was visualised.”
The show was a collaboration with Amber Slooten, a Dutch fashion designer and graduate from AMFI (Amsterdam Fashion Institute). Part of her graduation project was a mixed reality virtual fashion collection on a hologram. So fashion designer and lecturer Peter Leferink, who is dean of the Institute asked Slooten, and Pinar&Viola, to create a holographic catwalk as part of a show about the future of fashion for Amsterdam Fashion Week.
The piece was a huge technical effort with Slooten creating the 3D models for the clothes simulations while Pinar&Viola worked with catwalk choreographer Kim Vos for the movements of the real-life model—their “one-step-before-cyborg human” Nelle Swan, who was motion captured. Working with 3D artist Roxanne Gatt, facial animations were done for the clothes, given texture for projection using techniques from C4D. The illusion technique popularised in the 19th century, Pepper’s ghost, was used to mimic what holographic tech of the future might do, and the clothes projected onto the model as she moved around replicating the choreographed movements from the motion capture.
Slooten was inspired by the mixed reality concepts of companies like Magic Leap and Microsoft’s HoloLens and wanted to explore how a future of holographic garments might work.
“I realised that I did not want to make a collection in real life,” say Slooten. “It will end up in the back of my closet, and it would have served for a couple of excellent editorial pictures, but that’s it. We already carry such a big virtual identity, but it is hidden behind screens. Why not make it visible in the space around you? I am a fashion designer and what I am interested in is the body and the way it moves through the material. Whether it is a virtual fabric, flames, hair or other virtual entities does not matter to me. The virtual world has so many materials I could never use in real life, and this would also be the goal for the next collection.”
The resources that fashion uses are also a big theme for the show and a big reason for doing this mixed reality experiment—fashion is one of the most polluting industries on the planet, after all. Virtual clothes while at the moment impractical offer a possible path toward a potential solution, or at least are an avenue worth exploring.
“By creating a seductive environment for fashion to have a place in the virtual environment, we can inspire others to save resources, time, space and the ecosystem,” note Pinar&Viola. “With this catwalk, we wanted to show that technology plays a fundamental role in the future of fashion, industry, and our planet.”