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ANREALAGE SS16
ANREALAGE SS16

The fashion show you had to watch through your iPhone

Holding up a phone has become the fashion show norm – but at Anrealage it was a requirement. Here’s why the Japanese designer chose to embrace the digital age

Dazed writer Susanne Madsen once wrote about the detachment that social media creates at a fashion show. “Shows should be about immersing yourself in a designer’s universe, yet the moment you hold up a phone, something happens that distorts the moment,” she said.   

To kick off Paris Fashion Week yesterday, designer Kunihiko Morinaga of label Anrealage decided to play on that distorted moment by making everyone hold their phones aloft to snap his high concept show. It turns out his entire collection was crafted out of a special light-reflective fabric, developed with a company that makes high-vis and safety gear. Flash your smartphone at each garment and what appear to be grey, white or black plain silhouettes, suddenly light up with neon stripes, houndstooth checks and later more ornate lace and geometric patterns in a rainbow of colours.

In dimmed light, the models walked around, bathed in a sea of flashes coming from a wave of mass smartphone picture snapping. No wonder they had to wear protective eyewear. The flash action in the room was red carpet intense. To add to the discombobulating effect of the show, we also had to wear headphones to hear the 3-D soundtrack that accompanied the show, featuring contrasting sounds of nature and techno. It built up to a crescendo as the patterns on the garments became more complex and intricate. 

“In dimmed light, the models walked around, bathed in a sea of flashes coming from a wave of mass smartphone picture snapping. No wonder they had to wear protective eyewear”

“What’s real and what’s virtual?” explained Morinaga backstage after the show. “I want to show that what’s virtual can be just as real too.” Smartphones are now an accepted part of fashion show-going culture, and whether you’re Periscoping, Instagramming, Snapchatting or Tweeting, it’s unlikely you can avoid glancing at your screen at least once during the course of a show. 

But does that really make the experience of attending less “real”?  As someone who is consistently juggling a DSL camera and a smartphone while making mental notes with my eyes, Morinaga’s show felt like a celebration, as opposed to a criticism, of where technology has brought us in terms of instant show reporting. “Reflect reality – it makes a new reality,” read the succinct show notes. This new reality comes with different filters and can be recorded in slo-mo or Hyperlapsed. Yes, the moment gets distorted, but it also allows a fashion show to live on, not just in our memories and scribbled notes, but online in a heightened or enhanced state; on our social media feeds and up in our iClouds. Morinaga’s show was a clever way of pointing out the modern tools at our disposal today. The tech world’s flashlight is shining brightly at fashion shows – and there’s no going back. 

Watch the video below to see the show in action: