An entire fashion week took place in the metaverse earlier this year, while brands like Gucci have created Wearables that can only be used in a virtual state. There is a list going on. The relationship between the physical and digital is getting more intertwined with technology.
Meta, one of the dominant forces guiding the metaverse and all the attention it receives, hosted the latest digital fashion event in London last week. The event was founded on the marriage of fashion and tech, but it was more focused on celebrating the gay community.
Queens of the Metaverse brought digital fashion to a drag show, which resulted in an interactive display of both physical and artificial designs. The concept of drag, fashion, art, performance, and the metaverse in one space is large and innovative. Three unique pieces were created by three aspiring designers using virtual reality, augmented reality, and Meta'sHorizon Workrooms, and then translated to physical garments worn by three renowned drag artists.
The winner of RuPaul's Drag Race: UK vs. The World, as well as a pop music artist and a drag king, were all featured in the looks. The trio were joined by Nwora Emenike, a queer, non-binary hair and makeup artist, and Christie Lau, a Central Saint Martins graduate.
The three designers spoke to Mashable about the design journey, their affinity for drag, and how technology can become more inclusive in design if the companies who are making it engage with members of the community. The options for creativity in the project were so wide that it was like drag itself. Mohammed, Lau, and Emenike took on the collaboration due to this.
You can be anything in the virtual world. You're not restricted to the body. It's an interesting time to be making things.
Adam All was given the challenge of configuring averse supersuit. The designer studied the artist's performances and wanted to channel their "incredibly animated" onstage expression to complement the commissioned outfit; Lau drew other threads of inspiration from classic cartoons.
Adam All in Lau's creation, "Superverse Supersuit". Credit: Meta / PA Media
Lau, who is passionate about using artificial intelligence across their work, said the process was "incredibly freeing" due to the unfettered nature of digital fashion.
Lau says that they can design things without physics. Your design exists in your world. That is extremely powerful.
"We can design things without real world physics."
The brief of "Fantasy Dreamscape" gave Emenike a world of possibilities to think about. Water deities, lakes, and liquid mercury were considered by the stylist. Meta asked the designers to play with the augmented reality filters that were used to make these visions reality.
I went about it knowing she is a queen who fully transforms herself to whatever the brief is, so I wanted to make sure the final product spoke to her artistry.
Blu Hydrangea in Emenike's design, "Fantasy Dreamscape". Credit: Meta / PA Media
Emenike said that the idea of transforming identity played a part in the final creation.
There is a connection between the two. They say drag pushes the boundaries and makes you think about what you think is possible. You can transform identity with both of them.
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Mohammed, who isn't a designer by profession, felt the same way about the show.
They sayDrag is fun and technology can facilitate it.
His creation was supported by this kind of thinking. There was a moodboard that contained photos from NASA's Webb Telescope and star formations. They wondered what they would wear if there was no limit. The sky can't be ignored.
Mohammed did the same thing as Lau and Emenike did, drawing his idea on paper and using virtual reality filters to make it come to life.
Tia Kofi in Mohammed's interpretation of "Intergalactic Goddess". Credit: Meta / PA Media.
The final looks, which were presented digitally on screens and physically by the drag performers themselves at the official Meta-hosted show, were pieced together by a group of creatives. There were many "formidable" people behind the scenes. This isn't like the effort that goes into producing a traditional fashion show, but with the presence of the digital, new positions are being created.
The show presented the metaverse in a different way for those who worked on it. Digital spaces were always within a "tech bro circle".
They say that this felt like twisting traditional tech and queering technology. There are so many possibilities once you're in. It makes it easier to become an artist.
"This felt like twisting traditional tech and queering technology. Once you're in the possibilities are endless."
Digital fashion is making the industry more accessible, but these online spaces now have to navigate how this will look. They say we need to be ethical, consider the climate, and be representative of the people. Lau points out that the identities need to be designed for.
The company seems to be aware of the need to design for a wide range of identities as they constantly dip their toes into the aesthetic and wardrobe.
Ineke Paulsen said in a statement that "creative communities are central to the development of the metaverse, ensuring that we are building a space for each and every one of us"
As the metaverse develops, the company indicates their desire to be inclusive. This has not always been the case with Meta, who have a bad track record of protecting people who use platforms like Facebook.
According to GLAAD, platforms such as the aforementioned could be doing more to protect users, by increasing transparency, and committing to protect these groups online. Over the years, there have been reports of shadow-banning posts from marginalized groups on social media.
What could be the future of fashion was celebrated in Queens of the Metaverse This display of pride and creativity should be used as a launching point for more commitment to real inclusion and diversity. The show was a step in the right direction.