By  on July 18, 2007

Net-a-porter has offered a glimpse of where online retail is going with a virtual trunk show. The idea behind the online extravaganza was to celebrate designer Roland Mouret's comeback collection, RM, his fi rst since a fallout with previous investors. The show went live July 5, 24 hours after Mouret staged his runway show in Paris. It included complete runway footage, interviews with hair and makeup artists and shoe designer Christian Louboutin, as well as detailed commentary on each look from Net-a-porter editors. In the first four days, customers from 22 countries placed $500,000 worth of preorders. More than 250,000 visitors have viewed the runway video. The 42-item collection features spare, architectural looks with origami folds in neutral shades. Bestsellers included the Moon and Neptune dresses, the Magellen coat and the Helix jacket. The $2,150 Moon dress, for example, a stretch cotton sheath dress with folded details, sold almost 80 units in the fi rst four days. Prices range from $620 for a pair of shorts to $3,445 for a coat. Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue also have created online trunk shows and allowed customers to preorder from a designer's collection, but this was the fi rst time a retailer had put together such an extensive multimedia event using video runway footage and interviews. Net-a-porter, which has always emphasized editorial with magazine- like features and a printed look book for each season, and whose founder is a former fashion editor, said it planned to do more such events. Neiman Marcus said recently that it was mulling adding video and interviews with store executives and designers to its Web site. "We were founded on the principle of offering access to fashion brands around the world and amazing service, and we're excited to do this because it took our basic premise to the next level," said founder Natalie Massenet. "Because it's not a brand that's distributed in every store around the world, for customers to be able to get their hands on something which in previous collections sold out very quickly gives them another level of service." A video production crew with six cameras and Net-a-porter's in-house creative team shot the video in Paris and assembled the content the next day in London, where Net-a-porter is based. This was Net-a-porter's fi rst use of Flash, and it also made a nonvideo version for the minority of customers who can't run Flash.

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