During Artsect Gallery and RED-EYE’s London Fashion Week event, the gallery debuted the work of 9 different designers and artists in the heart of London’s creative district in Hackney Wick. The showcase, curated by Artsect Gallery in collaboration with RED-EYE, supported by Collective Individuals, The Immersive Kind, and the Metaverse Fashion Council, aims to support emerging artists and address social and environmental issues through sustainable fashion. We spoke with the head of events and curation, Aga Sliz, to gain insight into Artsect’s vision for this unique fashion showcase.
“The curatorial vision behind ARTSECT X RED-EYE is deeply rooted in Artsect's mission to support and nurture emerging artists, recent graduates, and individuals dedicated to addressing critical social and environmental issues through sustainable fashion practices.” says Sliz. This exhibition sets out to blend physical and digital fashion elements, juxtaposing traditional craftsmanship with 3D scanning technologies, to highlight the importance of both realms and demonstrate how they can not only coexist but also mutually reinforce and inspire each other. Aga Sliz, speaking on behalf of the team, believes that creativity knows no boundaries, especially when harnessed in conjunction with these innovative technologies. Through this exhibition, they have set out to challenge conventions, by providing a space and platform for young designers to showcase their designs, on their own terms.
By showcasing a variety of artists with mixed digital-physical artistic practices, the bold gallery is not afraid of experimental ways in fashion showcase. During the event, both event goers and models from the show alike were 3D scanned, allowing them to be turned into animated game-ready characters. The opening featured 2 live performances, a catwalk show, a film screening, and a DJ set by Cosmic Caz to wrap up the night.
Artsect, in curating intersectional artistic pieces, fully embraces the potential of emerging technologies and extended realities. Recognising the importance of digital platforms, they opted for alternative showcases instead of conventional catwalks. The opening night on the 15th featured performance art, runway show, and fashion film. In doing so, creating a dynamic and multidimensional context for presenting fashion, transforming fashion into a multidimensional art form that engages and challenges traditional perceptions of clothing.
We spoke to the designers about their collections and digital pieces, their vision, and what inspires them.
Christie Lau’s installation piece, titled “Cybernetic Skins” consists of 3 sided projection onto life-sized canvas screens. The video speculates posthuman identities, where organic flesh meets data and cybernetics. By reimagining organic bodies in the digital, data being the sustaining element of digital beings, they reinterpret data cables into digital landscapes that becomes the body. Viewers zoom out of digital screens in a feedback loop to explore the worlds and the cybernetic characters that inhabit them, wearing sandals of USB cables, tangled nests of wires as hair, extra limbs and emissive or metallic skins. The accompanying spoken word, read by the characters, forces viewers to come face-to-face with their own humanity, and what it means to be human in the digital age. By using the medium of projection, Christie hopes to create a portal between the physical and the digital, allowing viewers to glimpse into their paralleled cabled world.
Sam J's digital piece, "Engaged Dynamics," is a profound exploration of their non-binary identity. It uses sheer garments to reveal tattoos that symbolize their journey of self-expression and freedom. The dynamic poses in their digital pieces draw inspiration from spiritual figures, such as Jesus on water, reflecting the euphoria of queer individuals in spaces that embrace authenticity.
Sam's craftsmanship is a blend of physical and digital worlds, utilizing body scans and motion capture suits to create immersive, skeuomorphic sculptures. While they find the creative process intuitive, Sam faces challenges in perfecting the interoperability of viewing experiences across various digital platforms.
With regards to the future of fashion, Sam J sees digital fashion as more than just a trend. It's a transformative evolution that allows for new forms of creativity and self-expression. In their work, animated textiles, no gravity, and being able to create a garment with no closures all inspires them to create in a way that is beyond the means of traditional fashion.
Mariana De Lima:
Mariana De Lima, a 21-year-old Portuguese fashion and textiles designer, showcased her collection as the first performance piece of the opening night. The performance featured three models in various poses of binding and embrace, ending with a powerful cathartic release. Titled "Settlement of The Heart", her work explores negative experiences with men and the emotions of anger and disappointment. Using stretch fabrics sourced from upcycled tights and stockings, Mariana conveys the feeling of being trapped by male dominance and reflects gender dynamics. Inspired by the influential women in her family, including her grandmother, mother, and siblings, she channels their experiences into her work, celebrating their resilience and strength.
Adina Nicole's collection, "Restrictive Liberation," is an exploration of taboo topics, such as sexuality, liberation through restriction, spirituality, and folklore. In highlighting traditionalism from her Romanian heritage, she sought to preserve elements of traditional craft by using recycled Romanian tablecloths, bedsheets, and head scarfs more than 60 years old. Within her designs, she contrasts traditional wear elements with fetish aesthetic- classic aprons paired with leather corsetry, and leather panties with silver embellished beading. In doing so, Adina aims to provoke people's views on taboo topics and open a conversation about the provenience of our core beliefs. Her film showcases her designs, 3D scanned, and showcased in an environment reminiscent of your grandma’s house, the eerie familiarity of the scans with the digital setting give an unsettling feeling to the viewer.
Ivan Medrano is a Filipino-Australian digital designer breaking new ground in digital fashion. Using technologies like facial scanning and 3D modeling, Ivan creates romantic, alluring, and innovative pieces. He believes that digital fashion empowers marginalized creators and offers limitless creative possibilities.
Ivan's collection, "Manila Miracle Beach," celebrates the mundane beauty of daily life in the Philippines. It draws inspiration from domesticated roosters, coconut trees, and lines of motorcycles, translating these experiences into mesmerizing digital art.
The future of fashion, according to Ivan, lies in the increasing digitization of the industry, sustainability, and inclusivity. Digital fashion, for Ivan, is a means to celebrate cultural identity and unity.
Atelier Pol's collection,”The Oracle” takes inspiration from visual memories, queer identity, and not normcore culture with Matrix Vibes. The pieces, inspired by a post-summer vibe, had a focus on coverage and queer representation, using 3D as an alternative way to explore identity and sexuality. The creative process involves the use of 3D sculpting to create latex-looking materiality. It is an introspective process and reflective of their own experiences surrounding gender and body dysmorphia.
Fia Machado (Ana Silva):
Ana Silva’s collection combines the physical and digital worlds seamlessly. Beginning with 3D simulation and pattern-making, Fia visualizes and refines designs in a digital environment. The use of fabric burning techniques adds unique textures to the garments, highlighting her commitment to quality and sustainability.
Fia sees the future of fashion as a long-lasting evolution towards greater sustainability, inclusivity, and transparency. Digital technologies enable brands to reduce waste, provide transparent information to consumers, and cater to a diverse and empowered audience. NFC technology integrated into garments offers interactive experiences and extends the fashion narrative beyond the physical.
Lorena Bello draws her inspiration from the enchanting world of nature, particularly mushrooms. Her collection breathes life into these natural wonders, transforming them into mesmerizing dresses. Utilizing digital tools like Clo 3D, Daz 3D, and Blender, Lorena's work seamlessly blends the physical and digital realms. Her approach to fashion reflects a commitment to sustainability and a reverence for the environment.