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NEW YORK — A new dimension in a new millennium.

This story first appeared in the April 23, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

That’s the idea behind a fashion design collaboration between the Fashion Institute of Technology, Simon Fraser University and Adobe Atmosphere, a nascent 3-D software application slated to launch in May.

It’s a partnership, said FIT fashion design professor Daria Dorosh, that could speed the apparel industry’s shift from the 19th century world of cut-and-sew production into the virtual realm of computer-aided, three-dimensional design and manufacturing. Dorosh initiated the effort, which also has been aided by Steve DiPaola, professor of interactive art at Vancouver, B.C.-based Simon Fraser and avatar expert Bruce Danner, president and chief executive officer of Digital Space, a cyber-design studio in Santa Cruz, Calif.

The platform for the project is an online mystery game called “Ratava’s Line.” In a demonstration tonight, student sleuths at each school will attempt to discover why apparel designer Ratava is missing. Characters in the fashion-spoof intrigue include fashion editor Anna Winter (a play on Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour); ingenue Holly Dayin and dairy-fortune siblings the Teat twins. In action that recalls the board game, Clue, players move from room to room to solve the puzzle — and hear fashion gossip as they proceed.

The Ratava’s Line story and characters were created by 48 of Simon Fraser’s interactive arts students and 13 fashion design students at FIT. Clothing for the characters also was designed by the students — some of whom will wear those styles tonight when the game is played. Illustrations of the characters’ garb also will be on display this evening. “Online game characters typically wear generic, dull-looking clothes designed by techie guys,” Dorosh said. “Our students are the right age to create virtual apparel that would stimulate players’ visual interest.”

“We’re showing how traditional apparel designers and designers in the 3-D virtual world can collaborate,” said Danner, who has created avatars to sport the apparel worn by characters in Ratava’s Line in a virtual catwalk.

Indeed, Dorosh projected, “We will see a conversion of fashion and physics in the years to come — the end of the cut-and-sew era and dawn of 3-D garment design and construction.”