Maisie Wilen was designing for the Metaverse long before the term entered the mainstream. A digital-first creative, she came of age at a time when once fictional concepts like virtual and augmented reality became hard facts. The impact of this transition continues to ripple through fashion, and with her inventive fall collection, Wilen offered a best-case scenario of what the future might hold. The first holographic experience of its kind, it used Yahoo’s volumetric capture technology to transform models into hulking muses inspired by Monster High characters. Staring at the onlookers, laughing and shaking as they transformed into abstractions, they made quite an impression. The projections aren’t new, but the immersive nature of Wilen’s show — which was simultaneously revealed on an interactive website — has made previous attempts look like slide presentations.
The show was at its peak on the internet, but Wilen’s standout plays require IRL commitment; the average laptop can’t mimic the feel of the matte silver sequins that have made their way onto pants and trench coats or capture the shine of its new holographic vinyl. Yet she has faith in the ability of virtual reality to convey a message. “There’s the holograms, but there’s also a beautifully constructed site where you have the augmented reality versions,” she shared backstage. “You can zoom in on them, teleport them into your space to get around them. It’s a level of engagement that we haven’t had with the live show before.
Inspired by the increasingly blurred line between reality and fantasy and the moments of doubt it creates, Wilen sought to mystify her audience. “I wanted to deepen what could lead the viewer to question his reality. Clothes have optical illusions and we use a lot of textiles with visual effects,” she said. “Everything is presented so seamlessly; because viewers can feel this tension between what is real and their digital lives. »
A clear sign of real-world concerns was the many collaborations in programming. In addition to Yahoo, Wilen has teamed up with Keds for a line of spike and stud embellished sneakers. Partnerships with long-established brands are a way for young designers to amplify their reach, but Wilen was more interested in updating the classics. “I see a lot of sneaker collaborations with dad that are big and bulky, they’re awesome, but they felt like such a perfect canvas,” she said. “[The design] gives such a feminine and elegant energy that we haven’t seen in a while.”
Wiley also tweaked signatures like its perforated turtlenecks and patterned jumpsuits, updating them with vibrant new colors. It has also expanded into knitwear and denim. Typically, designers have cut their teeth on basics, but after creating viral party dresses, Wilen worked backwards to explore the most real thing of all: daytime basics you can wear to the office. .
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