Holograms appear on fashion stage like time travellers, which signify the past, perform in the presence as signifiers of symbolic meanings, and quickly disappear, leaving the question of their potential future. They offer spectacle for the audiences, while at the same time they invite the fashion industry for a limited journey into the unknown where it can potentially find the pristine ‘new’. With just a slice of this fashion & tech holographic realm where the images are just virtual ghosts of the real objects, we are enticed to be among the connoisseurs of their destiny among the advent of AI, AR, VR and the penetration of innovative technologies on fashion stages. In fact, the adaptations to novelties is fashion’s raison d’être.
These virtual replicas emerged in contemporary fashion as state of art commodities from the fusion between visual technology and fashion. They took up the challenge to offer a poetic view of the human body while simultaneously mirroring modern society. The holographic innovative approach towards virtual body manipulations and stimulations highlights the perception of the body per se, as the main fashion carrier. The human body is a frequent target for hi-tech penetrations in the ‘newly’ produced virtual corporeality and these holographic projections, recently appropriated by fashion, are direct consequences.
The fantastical envision of another universe offers a mode for re-visioning the body image and in the context of these aspirations in several fashion shows the model’s body was metamorphosed into its virtual double, by the adherence to holography. These catwalks embody theatricality that attributes dramatic and powerful effects; the holograms appear in mid-air, like modern Houdini’s within illusionary scenarios, which creates emotional spectacle for the audience.
Alexander McQueen pioneered this commodity from visual technology that finds its origin in the nineteen century technique named Pepper’s Ghost, by creating the famous ethereal hologram of Kate Moss in the presentation of his autumn/winter 2006 ready-to-wear collection in Paris. This exceptional technique has been appropriated as stimulation on fashion stages in the last decade, as seen in Alexander McQueen’s pioneering usage of three-dimensional hologram, followed by Diesel’s Liquid Space show (spring/summer 2008), Viktor & Rolf virtual show (spring 2009), Stefan Eckert’s Space Blues Symphony show (spring 2011), Forever 21’s fashion show (fall 2011), Burberry Prorsum Beijing new flagship store opening show (autumn/winter 2011/2012), Christian Louboutin retrospective exhibition at the London’s Design Museum (May, 2012), Guess 3D holographic fashion show in Barcelona (2014), the 4D holographic water projection in Polo Ralph Lauren’s spring/summer 2015 show and the latest example is the use of holographic materials in Maison Margiela (spring 2018) couture collection.
The advent of holograms as fantastical and mysterious apparitions within fashion presentations, affects and challenges the human mind, in fact they invite the viewer into an enigmatic voyage through another dimension. Simultaneously, they offer a virtual body-out-bounds, which signifies the disembodied critique toward the post-modern society and the need to escape from the limitations of this corporeality.
Holograms can be read as site for transmitting ‘phantasmagorical’ short stories that can be poetic, dream-like and alienating. In the same time this phenomenon opens new habitual perspectives for the body in another dimension freed in time and space. At the end, do they carry our urge to escape this reality by envisioning another one or are they just a commodity from the hi-tech evolution with an uncertain future in fashion?