How Holograms Could Change Fashion Forever

The tech world went wild when Microsoft announced HoloLens, a wearable computer that bridges the gap between the physical and digital realms and makes holograms a reality (see my article from the day of the announcement here). The first question on everyone’s minds was “does it work as well as they say it does?” Now that media reviews have confirmed that Microsoft has “found a way to merge reality and CG together (Gizmodo),” my mind is swimming with dreams of holograms. This is the first time in history that holograms have a real potential to be integrated into our daily lives, and I am particularly interested in holograms as an artistic medium.

Fashion has been greatly influenced by trends in technology in recent years, especially with the rise of 3D printing, which has quickly become a technique used by many designers (see my article, The Best 3D Printed Fashion You Can Buy Right Now). Biometrics and projection mapping have also found their places in the fashion world, so it stands to reason that holograms will one day be part of the fare produced by design houses we know and love. Because holograms exist in the digital realm it will be interesting to see how, if at all, holographic fashion is monetized and presented to the consumer. But like haute couture and avant garde styles, holographic fashion could have a breathtaking effect on the catwalk.

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In this article I’ve taken some of the photos I shot at SS15 World MasterCard Fashion Week in Toronto last October and reimagined them with holographic elements. I’ve organized the hologram designs into two categories: Integrated, which features holograms as augmentations of the designs; and Environmental, in which holograms present a sort of environmental or situational context for the garments.

Integrated

Imagine if designers could incorporate physically impossible materials into their designs. There’s only so much a person can do with elements found in the physical world – but since holograms exist on a virtual plane, they are limited only by the capabilities of technology. Well, holograms really exist in a mesh of physical and virtual planes, since they are virtual objects that interact with the physical environments around us. The beauty of this duality opens up a new door of possibilities: viewing art with and without the holograms. Imagine you’re at a fashion show, watching the models walk down the runway. For each of the designs below, imagine turning the holograms on and off – the garments are impactful both on their own and with the holographic overlay. It is the contrast between these two states that draws the real magnificence to the fore.

In this first look below, this beautiful white dress designed by Sid Neigum is contrasted by an impossible winged collar of pure light and solid gold. Without the collar, the dress is a stunning exhibit of craftsmanship and draping; with the collar it is a story about heaven solidified, all things pure made tangible.

Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint

In this next look, a holographic shawl made of metallic feathers floats above the shoulders of this geometric black dress, also by Sid Neigum. The impossibly delicate, impeccably reflective feathers take on the colour and reflected geometry of the garment – but only the garment, not the crowd or the lights of the runway. They bear no weight on the model’s shoulders, and do not cut or tear the dress, which shifts neatly as the model struts down the catwalk.

Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint

This third look adds a sinister element to this woven jacket by Sid Neigum. At first glance the jacket appears normal, but then you notice burning red embers hiding in the shadows, that then begin to bleed.

Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint

This final design in the Integrated series spins a fine silver cage around the skirt of this beautiful Narces gown. On its own, the gown flows like waves, washing gently with every step. But when you turn on the hologram, finely woven braids of silver encase the cacophony of flowing material and define the outer limits of the waves’ reach. Juxtaposed against the weightless structure of the silver, the fabric, though light in reality, appears heavy by comparison, contained in its cage like a bird.

Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint

Environmental

Now imagine holograms that surround the models and compliment the designers’ work with environmental context. In the first look below, this ethereal structured dress by Sid Neigum is surrounded by a three-dimensional galaxy. Locked to the model’s location and spatial orientation, the stars and dust clouds follow her as she walks, complimenting the dress’s playful combination of structure and softness, and emphasizing its softened rigidity.

Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint

In this second look by Elan & Castor, holograms provide environmental context for the look’s effortless, summery chicness. As the model walks, sun-baked cobblestones render beneath her strappy heels, and swaying palm trees sprout around her, transforming the catwalk into Rodeo Drive in the heat of late June. The holograms are again locked to the model’s location, but this time they appear and disappear sequentially, giving the appearance that it is the clothing itself that is emanating this covetable scene.

Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint

Today, fashion and all other forms of art that are rendered in the physical world are restricted to the limitations of the laws of physics. Holograms, a medium that spans physical and virtual planes, could revolutionize the way we approach these art forms. Imagine the impact not only on fashion, but on theatre, concerts, sculptures, education, medicine… the possibilities are mind-blowing.

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DISCLAIMER: The images, text and ideas in this post are merely inspired by Microsoft’s recent announcements and are in no way informed by my involvement with the company. This is the first time holograms have had real potential as an artistic medium, and this post is inspired by the potential of the medium, regardless of the technology behind it at this time. 

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