Technological Immersion During New York Fashion Week

Samsung, Refinery29 and Art Hearts Fashion move a week of presentations into the future

Anyone keeping an eye on NYFW by way of hashtags and trending topics saw two reactions to Alexander Wang’s collaborative carnival with adidas this past weekend: disappointment over the spectacle the whole week itself has become, versus excitement over the manifestation of a designer’s grander vision. We, as well as many others, have long found that set design, theatricality, and even choice of venue offer tremendous support to a collection—and that designers have just as much say in the production of the event as they do with the clothes they’re unveiling. And while this year has featured plenty of all of the above, much of it this time around has had to do with technology. We do not mean wearable tech, or even tech-fashion. Between a warehouse in Bushwick Brooklyn and a historic building on the LES, older, surprise venues were teeming with tech. And Samsung’s flagship technological showcase in the Meatpacking district became a hotbed of uncommon fashion week presentations.

The Shows at Samsung

On 10 September, make-up and skincare brand Charlotte Tilbury unveiled a new perfume. This fragrance, Scent of A Dream, met a ravenous crowd by way of a Samsung Gear virtual reality dream experience—guided by Kate Moss. Visual immersion, traveling scent and a digital host: this was just one of the many events still taking place at NYC’s Samsung 837. One day later, Timo Weiland womenswear designer Donna Kang set the brand’s presentation beneath a three-story screen featuring the artwork of Adad Hannah. Soundtracked, massive, wavering florals cast light directly upon the models. “The CFDA had referred us to the space,” Kang explains to CH. “It elevated our presentation into more than just that and left a lasting impression on me—and hopefully the attendees.” The visual impact allowed the designers to showcase mood-board-like colors and tap further into the inspiration behind the collection, allowing guests deeper insight into the pieces. And of course, there was a see-now, buy-now element to it all.

Samsung’s technologies touched athleisure brand Gypsy Sport and will soon lend their force to streetwear brand KITH. For their first-ever fashion show, KITH will turn Samsung 837 into a three-floor immersive installation. And while the details of that are still under wraps, their choice of venue will allow for the entire experience to be livestreamed not only on the KITH website but also in their store windows. For the evening, the venue will adopt a new name: KITHLAND. Therein will be a runway show, a presentation and an after-event blending music, technology and fashion.

Refinery29’s 29Rooms

Beyond designers, fashion publications also show their clout during the week, and Refinery29 returned with their acclaimed 29Rooms installation—a follow-up to what was previously one of the most successful social media activations in NYC. In essence, the experience—which took seven months to plan and one to build out—comprised 29 different experiences involving art, fashion and tech. “I think what makes 29Rooms such a special event is that each room puts the guest at the center of the experience, and we keep that at the forefront of our minds when we are designing each of the rooms,” Albie Hueston, Refinery29’s Creative Director of Experiential explains to CH.

“During the creative process, we often ask ourselves, ‘What is the point of interaction?’ so we can ensure that guests are truly able to contribute to the 29Rooms experience in some way, whether that be powering a dance floor with your moves or simply standing beneath a neon rainbow to show your pride,” he adds. This year’s theme “Powered by People” represents instances of fashion and technology taking on more meaning when in use. And while much of NYFW features exclusive events, this three-day extravaganza was open to the public.

The publication sought to take a lot of their online dialogue—both fashion and beyond—offline here. “The event taps into global topics and issues that resonate with Refinery29’s audience including body positivity, women’s leadership, diversity, self-acceptance, sex, LGBTQIA pride, and identity. When we start mapping out the experience we really think about who we want to collaborate with to bring these themes to life in an authentic and relevant fashion,” Hueston continues. “It’s important to us that we have a diverse range of visionaries who aren’t necessarily visual artists, but are incredibly relevant to our audience and have a story to tell.”

This manifested in a myriad of ways, from a collaboration with Tilt Brush by Google where guests paint “a new perspective” to artist Daniel Rozin’s “SEE YOU,” wherein art pieces acknowledge and interact with visitors. In a standout room, GURLS TALK in collaboration with Adwoa Aboah, roughly 500 telephones dangle from the ceiling, and through 15 gold-colored phones “you could hear stories from a range of women (including Erica Garner and Cara Delevingne) on what obstacles they have faced in their lives as a woman and how they overcame them.” This is a powerful message for the fashion world, yes, but for the greater population, as well.

Art Hearts Fashion Runway

There is no venue in NYC quite like the Angel Orensanz Foundation Event Space, where Art Hearts Fashion will begin their runway presentations today. Therein, the organization—working in collaboration with the AIDs Healthcare Foundation—will blend the history of its venue with a unique video mapping set background. The space itself is a replica of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, but the bi-coastal fashion platform has invited artists to install work within the space and will use the existing video technology to alter the environment wholly for each presentation. While more subtle than our two previous examples, the video-mapping technology isn’t one found at other venues that also host show upon show. For each event (some of which are back to back) the space will transform.

Lead image by Alexandre Corda, first Timo Weiland image by David Graver, second Timo Weiland image courtesy of Samsung, #29Rooms images courtesy of BFA and Art Hearts Fashion image courtesy of Angel Orensanz Foundation