If you’re anything like me, you’re often watching fashion shows on the screen and wishing you were able see it live. Watching fashion go by on the 2-D platform just always left me yearning for more. There was always that dress I wish I could see from a different angle. Why can’t the camera man follow every outfit from beginning to end so that I can see how it moves and turns? Of course, the alternative thus far is a much more costly so beggars can’t be choosers. Going to a live fashion show requires not just time but a substantial sum of money. We’re talking time off from work, airfare, hotel, food, a fashionable wardrobe and, last but not least, the ticket for entry. While the experience is priceless, the bill you end up with after all is said and done is sure to put a dent in your wallet for months. All hail the tech geniuses who understand a fashionista’s plight and created the virtual reality (VR) 3-D glasses that will bring the runway experience to us!
This summer, I had the pleasure of attending my first runway show sitting in the front row of Fashion Week in Moscow. OK, OK… I wasn’t really there when it happened, but thanks to the Oculus Rift 3-D glasses, I felt like I was. Putting on the glasses as I sat in a plainly painted room in an ordinary office chair, my world transformed into the beautiful cathedral where the show was held. With the runway stretched out ahead of me, I was surrounded by fellow attendees in a packed house. The headphones provided the audio background needed for total immersion complete with the audience’s chitter chatter. I looked up and studied the beautiful stain glass dome over me. Wow, is this for real?! The music began and a model emerged from the right side of the runway in a beautiful ballgown. I was mesmerized! As I turned my head right to watch her come toward me, I honestly could not tell the difference between virtual reality and actual reality. The model walked past me and I turned left to follow her path. I could see the train of her dress sway behind her. As she turned at the end of the runway and came back around, I really analyzed her. I wanted to see if there was an angle that wasn’t covered, maybe a fuzzy point that would give this virtual reality away. I was unsuccessful. The second model came out as the first one exited. For 3 minutes, I sat and watched like a kid at Disneyland for the first time. I can only imagine what the operator was seeing, a grown woman sitting with her mouth dropped open from shock. I could’ve sat there all night.
You may think that this technology is still far off in the future but it’s already in use. In June 2015, Dior became the first fashion house to launch its own VR headset, Dior Eyes. The 3-D printed all-in-one unit includes built-in audio and uses a Samsung smartphone as the screen. Content created for this apparatus is limited at this time but seems to be focused around fashion shoots, backstage activities of the fashion shows and the shows themselves. Dior aside, brands like Topshop, Rebecca Minkoff and Balenciaga are just a few of the fashion brands jumping on this high-tech bandwagon with participation ranging from device to content manufacturing. Since it’s such a new endeavor, brands themselves are generally the subject producers. I expect that once this medium gains greater acceptance, we will see download varieties grow organically much like those on other social media outlets.
Following my VR experience, I thought about the pros and cons of this instrument from a fashion consumer standpoint. There’s no denying the pros of this advancement. I feel a personal connection with collections that I have seen in person. Attending a runway show even if it’s through virtual reality would definitely still make that connection for me. I can imagine years from now having to really think hard to remember if I actually went to the show versus just attend it “remotely”. The cons of this technology is more practical than anything. As a blogger and constant student of fashion, I always take notes or pictures during fashion shows. This task would prove to be difficult with the 3-D glasses on. The glasses provide virtual reality, not augmented reality. In other words, you are in that world, but that world is not in yours. So, when I look down with the glasses on, I don’t see my legs or feet. It would be hard to take notes when you can’t see what you’re writing. Taking pictures would be tough too unless the glasses have an added features of snapping a frame of the video, which is not available at the moment. Lastly, if you are someone who tends to multi-task while watching a show on TV, you will not be able to do so with these glasses on. Using this technology requires your undivided attention. Granted, these complaints are not deal breakers when it comes to me owning the device. However, they do require an adjustment in how I do my work. It may just mean that I will still be taking that week off to binge watch the shows on my bed in my PJ’s.
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