fashion

New York Fashion Week show staged with 7-foot-tall holographic models

Updated 15th February 2022
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 12: Models pose during the Maisie Wilen Fall-Winter 2022 Collection Holographic Experience Powered by Yahoo during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Chelsea Factory on February 12, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows)
Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
New York Fashion Week show staged with 7-foot-tall holographic models
Written by Jacqui Palumbo, CNN
Designer Maisie Schloss' digitally-crafted psychedelic prints and chic cyber-inspired partywear feel right at home within a fashion industry that is looking towards the possibilities of a virtual future. During New York Fashion Week, she leant into this digital fantasy, presenting her latest collection for her label Maisie Wilen on 7-foot-tall holographic models.
Over the weekend, attendees of the Fall 2022 show entered into a gallery setting to find the virtual models lined up in a row, performing a set of repetitive motions, like GIFs. Inspired by the dolls of Mattel's 2010s franchise "Monster High," some wore green and blue body paint, creature ears and fins while they rotated in space, swayed their hips, pointed at guests and sometimes emitted shocks of animated blue lightning or bubbles.
The retrofuturistic collection has plenty of nods to virtual worlds -- some models wore VR glasses -- with some throwback 2000s silhouettes, like shimmering party tops, bodycon styles, vinyl trench coats and halter backless dresses. A collaboration with Yahoo, Schloss said they wanted to "really push the whole fantasy of what we can create."
"I really wanted it to serve as a study of the often blurry line between reality and fantasy -- what makes something that is real feel unreal?" she explained in a video call.
The LA-based designer, whose label is named after her mother's maiden name, got her start under Kanye West's wing, beginning as an assistant at Yeezy and working her way up to a womenswear designer. Three years ago, West awarded her the first grant from his incubator program and she founded her own label.
Since then, her clothes have been worn by Kim Kardashian, Bella Hadid and Kylie Jenner and have had screentime in the HBO show "Euphoria," where e-girl aesthetics and fantasy makeup reign the high school's hallways.

'Surreal yet lifelike'

Schloss has previously experimented with digital presentations, but here she took a hybrid approach, considering home viewers as well as in-person attendees. The entire collection is also available through a shoppable site, made by Yahoo, that features augmented reality (AR) versions of the models that can be placed in one's personal space.
Nigel Tierney, who helms Yahoo's Content Innovation, said the show is far from the "traditional passive viewing experience" of a fashion show.
"They can play with the assets in their environment," he said. The "Monster High"-inspired cast, like the cool daughter of Frankenstein's monster, Frankie Stein, can show up in AR anywhere the user is, wearing Maisie Wilen's clothes, and move in the space -- in Frankie's animation, for instance, she gets electrocuted. "We're thinking about stepping into these worlds like the metaverse and what that means to individual brands," he added.
As physical shows with large audiences have been challenging to produce during the pandemic, designers have embraced digital presentations and reimagined the boundaries of what a fashion show can be. But even with in-person shows returning, the virtual influence has remained, and Schloss is fully embracing the change.
"We're no longer tethered to things that we can show during a traditional fashion show," she said.
And while doing justice to materials in the digital realm can be tricky, Schloss's collection is made for it, leaning into what is surreal, "or even disorienting," she said.
"I utilized optical illusion prints (and) unique textiles that might trick the eye," she explained. "I have holographic vinyl and mattefied sequins that give an unusual visual effect."
To create the larger-than-life holograms and AR imaging for the show, Yahoo's team set up 106 cameras around the models in a studio space, capturing 360 imaging in super sharp 6K resolution to show every detail of the clothes. Maisie says the experience is "almost like living inside of a GIF lookbook." The imaging "brings so much dimension to the clothing...you get to see it move in this very surreal yet lifelike manner," she said.
And though some labels have begun to step into the metaverse by releasing their collection as digital NFT garments alongside their physical clothes, Schloss says there's no plans to do so this season. For now, bringing Frankie Stein into your home to wear the clothes for you will have to suffice.

Visit the Maisie Wilen holographic experience to see the full collection.