It has been said that the metaverse is a testament to the tenacity of human nature; an innovation borne from the desire for connection despite impediments resulting from pandemics, politically-fraught situations and more. Bearing this in mind, it’s clear to see that accessibility and inclusivity act as key tenets as to the creation of aforementioned 3D virtual worlds—a sentiment echoed by virtual reality platform, Decentraland, when they decided to launch Metaverse Fashion Week.
And while most aspects of Metaverse Fashion Week will be conducted online, there are participating brands that have seamlessly amalgamated the digital experience with physical. Such is the case with premium NFT marketplace, Brytehall, with the conceptualisation of ‘Fashion Eden’; a pop-up showroom hosted at the rooftop terrace of CashLabs Art Gallery and Screening Space from 24—27 March that has phygital assets out on display.
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The exhibition aims to highlight a range of pieces that has been carefully selected by Hong Kong-based curatorial collective, The MetaArt Club. Visitors will be greeted by a breathtaking landscape filled with flowers surrounding raised displays of said creations—created by London-based VR company, Emperia—of which will be auctioned exclusively on Brytehall, with 10% of revenue going to the Vogue Singapore Foundation to support ventures that promote sustainability within the fashion sphere. Contributing artists include architect and digital couturier, Niccolo Casas, as well as video artist, Franknitty3000.
In the case of Casas, the artist has created a couture piece that will be sold at auction as a 1/1 animated 3D NFT. The buyer of the 1/1 animated 3D NFT will be given the opportunity to purchase this hero NFT as a phygital, 3D-printed couture dress, priced at US$33,000, including the digital atelier process of customisation and fitting to the buyer’s body.
Beyond that, his couture dress will also be reinterpreted and reimagined as an edition of 25 art NFTs. A phygital bracelet acts as the finishing touch to the collection. Franknitty3000, on the other hand, will be putting 12 editions of a video artwork NFT up for auction. In it, Olympic high-jumper, Cecilia Yeung, is depicted sporting Casas’s crystal frock.
Here, Vogue Singapore speaks to both artists with regard to their works for the event, as they delve deeper on the creative process and inspiration behind phygital couture wearables—alongside the future of the metaverse and what it entails.
Your background is primarily in architecture. Does it differ a lot to your work for tech-fashion? Or is it more similar than most people think?
There is an Italian term abito, that means at the same time, “dress” and “I inhabit”. It’s like the ancients saw a common trait between architecture and fashion; I share this view. A house—in a way—acts like a dress in how it mediates between the body and the surroundings. Both relate to identity and care.
Tell us more about the process of creating the couture dress for ‘Fashion Eden’. What were the steps taken and what message did you want to translate with this artwork?
I’m interested in the idea of coexistence, of existing in different ways simultaneously. The metaverse is a perfect example of such dual conditions, where presence is together digital and physical. Water mutates from ice, to vapour, to fluid states. It exists in multiple forms. Water is a significative metaphor for how “phygital creations” exist in the metaverse, where its concurrence of states inspired the “crystal” collection.
The “crystal” dress and bracelet can exist only as code or become solid via 3D printing. Such materialisation will happen only on demand, with non-harmful biomaterials and without waste. The implications of digital couture for a future of sustainable fashion are unparalleled. Hence the crystal, ice-like aesthetic of the collection is also a message for climate awareness and action.
What can we expect from the other creations you’ve crafted for ‘Fashion Eden?’
While it is still a technological challenge to manufacture a complete dress via 3D printing, the same can’t be said for a wearable. We thought a “crystal” bracelet was a nice fit for this unique occasion. The collector will decide whether to have it in digital or physical NFT art forms.
What was it like working with Franknitty3000, and how do think the video artwork amplified your creation?
I’m always truly interested in collaborations, again, and in those are forms of coexistence. Each creator has their own cultural and procedural world, and the meeting between different artists or professionals allows for a breaking of such conditions by exceeding each singular view into a coexisting creative space. I trust such efforts to generate what I call “unexpectedness,” and Franknitty3000’s universe can be so wonderfully and strangely unexpected!
What is it about the metaverse that intrigues and excites you?
The metaverse is producing the third digital revolution in fashion and architecture. The first concerns the way we design, the second lies in the way we fabricate, and the last concerns the way we exchange. Fashion and architecture lose their materiality, somehow, in the same way music did in the ‘90s with the birth of mp3 files. But if music were already “abstract” since its physicality was only in the support, fashion and architecture will, in the metaverse, lose their body-constraints for the first time.
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What do you hope to see more of from the NFT space?
A new form of craftsmanship, a digital craftsmanship, where small creative organisations—with identity and consistency—can emerge and drive the third digital revolution.
Are there any specific messages or themes you hope to convey through your phygital work?
Sustainability and non-harmfulness are themes that are close to my heart. I truly hope that the metaverse has the strength to push art, fashion and architecture in a more eco-friendly direction. The basis is all there: on-demand production, digital distribution and waste reduction.
What was it about Niccolo’s work that appealed to you the most? And what was the process like working on the digital couture dress for the video artwork?
What I like about Niccolo is that he has quite a philosophical and methodical approach, which is something of a treat of architects, but the outcome of his work can be surprisingly aesthetically pleasing. His work is really sophisticated. I like to photograph real people and models as part of my process, but for this project we obviously didn’t have a ‘physical’ dress to work with. We had to shoot the model in nude underwear in my studio and composite an image of the dress onto her body afterwards. This requires some imagination but I think it worked out well.
Obviously, we had to pay a lot of attention to the fact the dress has to fit elegantly onto the model’s body and try to match the light. There is a degree of detail which will get lost in certain lighting conditions, but I think the dress holds up really well just with its silhouette. I wanted to shoot someone with some character and personality in the real world, as opposed to just shooting a fashion model, so that’s how we collaborated with the amazing Olympic athlete, Cecilia Yeung, who was happy to join the project.
You’ve worked with many big names in fashion before, how does this collaboration with Niccolo differ? Do you channel a signature style in all your works?
It was interesting to collaborate with someone who takes more of a lead in the project and basically having to adapt myself to someone else’s vision. This is vaguely similar when you work with creative people in the fashion industry, but in those cases there is a somewhat more commercial angle. A lot of work I do might end up being part of a campaign, which is part of some imaginative world to sell a product.
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I see my signature style as something that lives on the edge of pure imagination and then possibly morphs into advertising. I don’t have any issues with that. As long as there is enough room to express my thoughts and ideas I’m happy to add my vision to a collaborative effort. What I enjoy is to analyse, deconstruct and create visions of possible new realities around existing ‘content’.
What do you think the future holds for fashion in the metaverse? And what do you think people should be mindful of while experiencing it for the first time?
I think people should match their expectations to the limitations of the technology but not their imagination. Imagination is one thing, and technology is another. Those things should really be taken as two separate parts of the conversation.
What the metaverse will need is an influx of people with different voices instead of it being led purely by technologists and graphic designers. Fashion has some part to play in that as well. Chefs, biologists, philosophers, teachers—who knows what’s possible?
How do you hope to further explore NFT-exclusive content creation?
I am currently working on an NFT collection of 3000 unique generative animations called 3000KINGS which will support a pop-up exhibition project that I want to travel around the globe. NFTs are a great way for my audience to support and fund these kinds of endeavours.
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