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Will Video Presentations Eventually Replace Runway Shows?

New York-based fashion designer Norma Kamali is all about pioneering trends, but even though she’s been in the business since 1967, her processes are far from traditional. You can thank her for popularizing the shoulder pad trend in the 80s and creating the first “sleeping bag” or “puffy” jacket. She was also the first designer to have an online store on eBay and designed a diffusion line with WalMart before the market was inundated with designer collaborations (see presently, Missoni for Target and Karl Lagerfeld for Macy’s).

She’s integrated scanning technology in her NYC flagship store, which allows shoppers to purchase items directly from the floor or window (and has an iPhone app for those who can’t conveniently pop into her Midtown West boutique). Kamali’s designs have been seen on celebrities like Beyonce, Lady Gaga and the late Farrah Fawcett, and now she’s using 3D technology to revolutionize the way clothes are shown and purchased on the runway.

Her Spring/Summer 2012 presentation in New York last Wednesday, inspired by Warner Herzog’s 3D 2010 documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams, featured streaming 3D video instead of strutting models, as Kamali played a 3D film on loop while onlookers experienced the show through her custom-made cat eye 3D glasses, which she’s also giving away on her website.

“You can show clothing with more depth,” Kamali told The New York Times. “This technology is not just going to be for games or entertainment. I think our industry will probably be able to use this more than most others.”

Simultaneously, Kamali launched NormaKamali3D.com, where visitors can watch the film, browse animated 3D looks from the collection and play an “Eye Spy”-esque fashion game.

The actual collection is light-hearted and gay, channeling color palettes (tangerine, pistachio and azure) and patterns (polka dots and stripes) from the 60s and 80s with a touch of neon pink flapper fringe. High-waisted rompers, lamé cutout swimwear, mermaid evening gowns and long sleeve crop tops were just a few of the cuts that stood out in the somewhat miscellaneous collection, but the point here was fun, and fun it is.

In the film, models slink and sway in 3D, pulling dance moves like the “Robot” or a particular hand jive that looks like it could have been ripped from Grease. Models outfitted in neon EL wire close out the video, bearing very close resemblance to M.I.A’s dancers during her Coachella 2009 performance.

Even though iconic British label Burberry had some technical difficulties with their live-stream last season, 3D technology is certainly presenting itself as a viable platform for presentation of fashion—the idea of film replacing live models is now certainly a possibility more than ever.

Not only does video allow viewers a close look at the textures, quality and movements of fabrics, real-time video streams allow the general public to participate in the same experience as the fashion world elite, taking away the inherent exclusivity of the medium. As Eliza May’s lyrics suggest, “Every hook, every clip every twitch of the zip, it’s all for you.”

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