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Trashy muse virtual avatar fashion show
Courtesy of Trashy Muse

Trashy Muse put on the world’s first virtual avatar fashion show

It’s just like your average runway – except the clothes are digital and so are the ‘people’ wearing them

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of years, it’s likely you’re fully aware that the digital world is increasingly creeping into fashion with each passing season. From Lil Miquela and Bella Hadid’s wholly problematic Calvin Klein make-out session, to the fact the world’s first digital couture dress sold for an eye-watering $9,500 just a few months ago, technology is redefining the way we interact with brands and their clothes themselves. Computer-generated crossovers are clearly having a moment, so it makes sense to assume the next step could be seeing these two concepts meet on the catwalk – which is exactly what creative duo Trashy Muse have done.  

Last week, the pair launched the world’s first augmented reality and virtual avatar fashion show at EP7 gallery in Paris during the capital’s SS20 fashion week, because fashion IRL is cancelled, apparently. Featuring a cast of mostly digitally rendered avatars, including the world’s first digital supermodel Shudu, virtual superhuman Dagny and Trashy Muse’s very own monogrammed influencer, Branded Boi, the one-day show saw Instagram’s hottest AR designers (read: the people behind your favourite artsy face filters) come together to create bespoke digital fashion and accessories designed for and worn by virtual avatars. 

The show itself was a collective effort, featuring work by approximately 100 creators across Trashy Muse’s online network, primarily consisting of 3D artists like Anthony Rosati, creative studio NDA Paris and the brains behind virtual shopping experience RELMS. “We’ve been working in AR together with a lot of 3D artists so this is familiar territory for us, but bringing it all together in one show isn’t typical,” Carina Bucspun and Ann-Britt Dittmar, co-founders of Trashy Muse, tell us. “Normal fashion shows are on catwalks with real models and real clothes – we made everything digital.” 

The Berlin-based artists are part of a small yet dedicated pocket of Instagram pushing the boundaries of augmented and virtual design into the mainstream by creating hyperreal clothing and accessories that exist exclusively online. “We’ve seen physical fashion shows presented virtually (like Moschino’s SS17 presentation), but virtual avatar fashion shows have never existed in the offline world. At least, until now,” they explain. 

Structured as a video montage-of-sorts, the digital screens that make up EP7 gallery projected short videos of virtual avatars modelling hyperreal garms which were digitally crafted by ten select artists across the online community. Among them, Trashy Muse’s own collection exuded 00s net nostalgia: low-rise jeans, crop tops and facekinis printed with “™” monograms were juxtaposed with ‘stripper’ latex and body chains. “It’s in the name, we like it trashy,” Dittmar laughs. Their collaboration with NDA Studio felt like the sort of Y2K style born at the turn of millennia, probably alongside Windows ‘95 and Myspace: a low-cut unitard with barely-there diamante straps; a cropped jacket with tailored trousers paired with a skimpy body harness; a holographic leotard with tribal motifs and thigh-high boots – you know, the kind of Net 2.0 thirst trap aesthetic that’s hot RN on Depop.

For his collection, digital artist Anthony Rosati wanted to explore the way 3D fabric interacts with movement and light. “I used a lot of holographic textures for this reason because they reflect light in a unique way and I created a sort of identity for my characters playing with glossy and shiny surfaces,” he tells us. Drawing on the retro-futuristic style of Hajime Sorayama’s Dior, the artist used a combination of 2D garment pattern-cutting, 3D design, and rendering software to make the hyperreal clothing. One look sees a purple-skinned virtual avatar standing amidst a digitally-rendered meadow surrounded by giant iPhones playing viral Youtube sensation the Nyan cat. He wears a holographic tunic that appears to float mid-air – online, that is. 

Some avatars even wore clothes taken from the world IRL. Team Relms, the creators of immersive virtual shopping experience RELMS, dressed virtual model Tanto in a Raf Simons cut-off dungaree top, printed with a portrait of Patti Smith – an image that represents digital fashion’s punk roots. “If this was 50 years ago, the equivalent would probably be spray painting a T-shirt but in 2019, you can get a laptop for £250. You can use sites like YouTube to learn how to create avatars and virtual worlds that reflect our (personal) reality,” they tell us. 

So what’s next? “We want to bring this show and similar to as many cities as possible,” say Trashy Muse, who are already planning on expanding their community to include IRL fashion designers and textile makers. “We don’t want to give too much away but what we will say is there will be stronger mix between virtual and reality. You’ll have to see for yourself.”

A full list of collaborators can be found below.