Our scene takes place in April, during the Hyères International Fashion and Photography Festival. Stylist Vanessa Schindler, laureate of the 2017 Fashion Grand Prix, has teamed up with digital designer Marine Giraudo to present a virtual reality performance. The spectator is placed in the centre of an empty room and invited to wear a virtual reality headset, as well as headphones broadcasting "spacemusic". He has only to let himself be carried away. Immersed in a phantasmagorical universe, he discovers the creations of the young stylist who comes to life in strange dimensions or carried by mannequins of unreal proportions. The fibers of the fabric seem to envelope him completely.
A collaborative work of Giraudo
Halfway between art and fashion, this experience fits perfectly with the trend of the moment: the incessant marring of advances in fashion with steps in technology. Either in virtual reality, which consists of placing users at the heart of an imaginary world using a headset, or in augmented reality, which makes objects appear in the environment thanks to a connected device.
By the end of the year, about 900 million devices (smartphones, tablets, and so on) will be compatible with augmented reality in the world, according to Tim Merel, director of Digi-Capital, an American Silicon Valley company that is dedicated to these developments. Fashion brands are at the forefront of this. "It helps to attract young generations born with a smartphone in their hands and always looking for new games. They are the preferred brands' targets today," says Edouard Keller, export sales manager at Carlin International, a sales trends specialist.
Last month, Balmain inaugurated its first shop in Milan, taking the opportunity to offer its customers an immersion experience. There, everyone is immersed in the world of artistic director Olivier Rousteing, who guides visitors through the stages of creating a collection. The concept is to be extended to several lines of the brand. The Spanish giant Zara, for its part, launched only a few weeks ago, a smartphone application allowing customers from one hundred and twenty shops worldwide to discover the collection spring-summer 2018 worn by models walking in shops or windows.
Balmain's creative director, Olivier Rousteing, demonstrating the VR apparatus used by customers in it's new display
These technologies are most often used to simulate fitting: in-store, in a virtual booth projecting clothing on the customer, as experienced in Topshop and H&M, or at home through an application, a process already tested by Converse or Nike. The shoemaker Berluti, for its part, offers a personalization service: thanks to video projections, shapes, materials and colours are superimposed and make it possible to design your own pair of shoes in the shop.
"The store no longer has the same function today, we no longer come to see the news since everything is accessible online. We must therefore offer other services, says Edouard Keller. However, we note that the virtual fittings, for example, are not yet very developed. This can quickly make gadget. But it is very good that brands are interested because the more investments, the more the techniques will improve. "
Negotiating the shift required by new technological advances is more than ever one of the key issues of the moment for luxury groups and ready-to-wear brands. LVMH - owner of Louis Vuitton, Dior, Berluti or Kenzo - will also hand over its second prize for Innovation to a start-up specializing in these issues, at the Viva Technology fair, which will be held in Paris from 24 to 26 May. Truly, it does seem as though industry whispers, which have predicted this trend for some time, have finally been vindicated.