Milan, Italy. September 24, 2020. Earlier today, GCDS revealed the first ever Digital Fashion Arcade: a hyper-saturated virtual arena, in which the label’s Spring/Summer 2021 collection was shown on an electronic runway. Alongside the clothing, the forum featured augmented reality socializing, short films, playable video games and immersive simulations galore. GCDS Creative Director Giuliano Calza titled it: Out of This World.
Dreamed of by Calza—and developed with an all-star team consisting of the creative technologies firm Emblematic Group run by the WSJ Technology innovator of the year Nonny de la Peña and their REACH.Love platform, the creative hacker and artist Thomas Webb (his platform is called “Worldwide Webb,” which has been integrated into GCDS’s digital arcade), and the director Jeron Braxton (who most recently made The Weeknd’s “In Your Eyes” video)—this cybernated realm was conceived to serve as a happy sanctuary from the harsh realities of 2020. It became an electric bonanza, filled with grand interplanetary staging, eccentric characters, neon kitsch, and both women’s and menswear that was rife with futuro-beach/techno-crafty vibes.
The Spring/Summer 2021 collection consists of three sections: hippy swim, patchwork-and-paisley, and high-shine vinyl. Decade references run from the 1960’s to the 1980’s (see a string bikini created with a marijuana leaf-and-daisy to power suiting in color-blocked vinyl). A beam of the 1990’s streams through, too. The results blend a high-energy recipe of time, space and escapist optimism: everything from crochet knits, flared pants, signature colorful organza separates, cherry motifs, patchwork and terry fabric suits, second-skin liquid vinyl trousers, plastic overalls and rainbow rhinestones make appearances. A collaboration with Rick and Morty (the Emmy-winning animated TV series) featuring graphics also surfaces. As a wink to the times, masked and winged headpieces closed the virtual show, before the fete transformed and opened up into a party hall.
The Spring/Summer 2021 collection was developed through convention-breaking processes, primarily with the Emblematic Group. Calza first sketched the clothes, from which initial paper patterns were cut. These patterns were then digitized through comprehensive “mesh” constructions, with frameworks ranging from garment shapes to fabric weights to flexibility levels to colors, reflections, folds, movements and more. One the collection existed digitally in full, the clothes were then produced, physically.
“Creating this fashion show was truly out of this world. It is something that has never been done before!” Director Nonny de la Peña says. “We had to marry multiple techniques to bring the catwalk characters to life.
After the presentation, the arcade converted: guests were able to speak and interact with GCDS’s glam team (listed below), while celebrities from the front row and model avatars (including Aweng Choul, Raisa Flowers, Jazzelle Zanaughtti, Ottawa Kwami) mixed-and-mingled. These avatars were also completely custom-built for the show, from simpler elements like nail art to complex attributes such as the integration of true facial features. VIP “guests” included Amina Muaddi, Chiara Ferragni, Gilda Ambrosio, Giorgia Tordini, Fedez, Kemio, Nikita Dragun and many more. Each is a personal friend of Calza’s, and these avatar attendees were in part developed by a group called Rogue Initiative (working with Emblematic), using detailed technological prowess, artistic talent and virtual cinematography. Everything down to gestures and subtle movements was taken into account when creating these guests. As another part of the digital arcade, games could be played, and digital re-sees were held “backstage.”
“This planet was imagined as a cheerful place,” says Calza. “Creating this world and this collection, over months of Skype and Zoom calls, gave me peace of mind. Even if just for a brief window, we could all use a virtual getaway, right now.”
- Casting: Evelien Joos
- Styling: Anna Trevelyan
- Hair: Syd Hayes
- Makeup: Erin Parsons
- Music: Dardust
- Film Director: Attilio Cusani
- Writing: Giuliano Calza
- Creative Direction: Giuliano Calza
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