As we enter the summer of digital fashion weeks, brands are grappling with how best to adapt the drama and poetry of a live fashion show to screens around the world. Some argue vehemently about the lack of emotion on video. Others advocate for 3D technology and body mapping for an exciting new mode of communicating fashion. Even more would rather stick to lookbooks and wait for the world to readjust to its normal cycles of official fashion weeks. Valentino is making a bold statement with an innovator in the online fashion field: Today the brand announced an immersive experience created by Nick Knight.
Set to take place at Rome’s Cinecettà film stage (a space that previously hosted fashion shows from Chanel and Moschino) on July 21, the live event will “merge the human and digital worlds” and showcase the values of Haute Couture, as per a release. What does that mean exactly? You’ll get a sense in a couple of weeks. In keeping with the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode’s official digital fashion week from July 6-8, Valentino will be debuting a video preview of this experience during its originally allocated time slot at 6 p.m. on July 8. That video, also produced by Knight, will shed light on the potential of a hybrid physical-digital showcase—”phygital” to use one of fashion’s unfortunate new buzzwords.
With this partnership, Valentino becomes the first major brand to announce a rethink of fashion’s digital potential. Despite the fact that Knight’s platform ShowStudio has been pushing the boundaries of fashion’s potential on film since 2001, much of the industry has been slow to catch on to the power of the moving image. As yet, no other video artists, directors, or innovators have been announced to participate in fashion’s virtual weeks this summer. That’s a strange situation when you consider how quickly fashion has linked up with the art and music worlds on collaborations, events, and social media projects.