These days, the conversation about fashion and technology is centered around the flash effects of Instagram and Snapchat, and the increasingly complex logistics of global supply chains and e-commerce delivery. But Nicolas Ghesquière is having a far more interesting conversation about the intersection of technology, fashion and the human experience — and he's having it right on the runway.
At Wednesday morning's show at the Frank Gehry-designed Fondation Louis Vuitton, Ghesquière turned his lens to virtual worlds and avatars, drawing a neat parallel between gameplay and fashion. Guests entered a dark show space divided by rows of glass-encased LEDs — not the glowing projected surface, but the plastic-encased hardware and cables, cluing us in about the show's theme. When the show began, the screens went live in a vivid mishmash of giant moving pixels, streaming color waves and a video of a man navigating a virtual world via Oculus Rift, the virtual reality headset from Facebook due out next year.
The images were so bright and rapid that many guests did not see the first model walk out in a pink leather moto jacket and armorial beaded skirt, her long pink hair, manga-style eye makeup and metal forehead band making her look like the real-life manifestation of some gaming avatar. She was succeeded by models in fantasy-warrior garb: technical knits that resembled chain mail, tough-looking beaded and braided leather skirts, and logo-stamped leather jackets over puffy white blouses, dresses and skirts. Towards the end of the show, Ghesquière introduced a series of silvery, holographic dresses — no less armorial than the earlier looks — that looked as if they had been molded by 3d printers. (Impressively, they weren't.)
One of the primary objects of online multiplayer games like "World of Warcraft" is to acquire stuff that makes your avatar look cool and entices the envy of other players — which is a pretty apt metaphor for luxury shopping. But Ghesquière drew a more positive parallel: Like avatars embarking on a fantastical quest, "fashion also participates in this same voyage of self-knowledge, freedom and discovering one's own personalities," he wrote in the show notes. It's a world that allows total freedom in crafting one's avatar, or image — and the freedom to do so, Ghesquière implies, is available at a Louis Vuitton store near you.