Y-3's New York Fashion Week Runway Projections Were A Colorful, Triangulated Masterpiece
Though the tech highlight of New York Fashion Week was without a doubt the Google’s Project Glass making its debut appearance on the runway at Diane von Furstenberg, when I saw a friend post an Instagram photo of Yohji Yamamoto’s Y-3 fashion show, the first thing I noticed wasn’t the clothes or the super hip-looking party scene, but rather the brightly hued projection-mapped visuals.
After further investigation, I found out the artist responsible was Dev Harlan, who you might remember from projection mapping this crochet-covered bike (because, well, why not?) in collaboration with artist Olek. Harlan answered some of my questions about the collaboration and shared some exclusive, behind-the-scenes photos.
The Creators Project: How did your collaboration with Y-3 come about? Have you ever worked with fashion brands before?
Dev Harlan: I was contacted by Brussels agency Villa Eugenie about the Y-3 show. The agency asked me to pitch a concept based on my fine art sculpture, which incorporates video projection. Y-3 was really open and ended up loving the first renderings I presented, and that was roughly what we executed for the show. I’m really not from the fashion world and I’d only done one runway show before in my life.
Did you have much creative control, or did you take inspiration directly from the line?
I pretty much had total creative control, and had very little input from Y-3. In fact I didn’t see a single stitch of clothing from the line until the models hit the runway in the rehearsal. There were a few textile assets as reference and the rest was up to me. It was kind of a dream scenario on the creative, but also a lot of pressure in the actual logistics. Both agency and client were very trusting that everything would in fact be feasible.
What kind of environment did you want to create?
I think somewhere between “iridescent crystal canyon” and “interplanetary rave” were my initial thoughts. It needed to be elegant and timeless on the one hand, but also vital and energetic. How I get from A to B though is really an intuitive process for me. We had in fact wanted to cover the entire room, floors and ceiling included, though ultimately for practicality’s sake, settled on the two major framing walls.
Could you describe the projection facade… How many pyramids were there? What were they made from? Did you construct those as well?
The facade was actually built from 650 identical pyramids. The material was a rigid foam sheet, like gator board but with a hard plastic coating. We had the entire thing cut on CNC through a great fabricator in DUMBO, SITU Studio.
How many different visual patterns did you trigger in the projections? Were they triggered by the music? What kind of tools did you use for the live show?
There were at least a dozen different animation looks, but the show was very tightly scripted at only 12 minutes long. We ended up using UVA’s D3 system for playback, which gave us a lot of flexibility, as we were essentially editing the show together on the spot during rehearsal. We also produced a lot of additional material just for the after party, which Y-3 had on the runway in front of the installation.
What kind of role do you think visual/musical environments play in the context of a fashion show?
Well, in theory a runway show is ultimately about the clothing itself, but I think for a lot of the bigger brands it’s also about the spectacle. A media-driven spectacle like this contextualizes Y-3 as a forward-thinking brand. It also shows that they’re willing to take risks and do something that’s very new to the fashion world, and in fact, something that’s never been done at this scale to my knowledge.
Geometry and tessellation are big themes in your work… why are you drawn to this particular style?
What do you have coming up?
In the immediate, I’m installing a new exhibition with Christopher Henry Gallery, it’s a big tiled pyramid skate ramp basically. You have to see it, the opening is Thursday, September 27th and will be up through November. If you liked the Y-3 exhibit, you’ll definitely want to check this out as it’s moving in a similar vein.
Next up I’m working on initial drafts for a 250m glowing sphere to be launched into geosynchronous Earth orbit. (!)