MILAN — It can be as subtle as a gif-inspired pattern or an embossed macramé or more bold-like models accompanied by iPads and iPhones on the runway.
From the ensembles to the fibers that are woven into them, the digital world is making an impact on not just how designers and mills envisage their mood boards but also on the designs themselves.
Italy’s largest textile fair, Milano Unica, last week hosted the MU Road Show, a preview of the fall 2018 trends that will be shown here in the fair’s July edition. Expected to be one of its most tech/media-inspired seasons of them all, organizers held the event at the city’s tech and science museum, the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci, to highlight the direction and the speed at which their creative department is operating.
“A lot of what we see is from the web. Social media has exaggerated our point of view on what is happening now and on themes from the past,” said Milano Unica’s creative director Stefano Fadda.
The textile community here has been amping up its game in terms of trends for a while now — hiring creative directors such as Fadda to guide the trends for the upcoming season, create curated trend exhibitions and work hand-in-hand with mills to craft prototypes for the upcoming season. All of these moves are aimed at catering to a more contemporary, fast-fashion world and increased demand.
Fadda, who has worked for brands such as Giada and Prada, was hired by Milano Unica in 2015.
He broke fall 2018 down into four abstract moods inspired by a cross-pollination of ideologies and images: “Paolo Sorrentino Directs ‘Dynasty,’” “Pedro Almodovar Directs ‘Victor Victoria,’” “Stanley Kubrick Directs ‘Sherlock,’” and finally, “Quentin Tarantino Directs ‘Little Buddha.’”
The first, and perhaps the boldest of them all, “Paolo Sorrentino Directs ‘Dynasty,’” also explores the way the Internet amplifies excess in an age of “Trumpism.”
“In the 1980s there was no web, but technology has the power to make details appear stronger, more compelling,” Fadda said, explaining that for the past few seasons, he and his team have been working with mills throughout Italy to craft samples that reflect the themes of the trend area, which has evolved into a more amplified exhibit than ever before — with inspiring descriptions, quotes, paintings and even videos — rather than just a space filled with swatches pieced together.
Intricate jacquard with embossed prints and gold fil coupè with fringe inlays and tousled bouclé padding are just a few swatches Milano Unica developed with mills that resonated and reflect a digital world.
Jacquard specialist Bonotto SpA, which is famous for its innovative, abstract patterns said the digital world is speaking a language that is constantly evolving into contemporary trends, said Bonotto creative director Giovanni Bonotto.
“I am not inspired by the digital world, but I do think that digital culture and artificial intelligence are fundamental to this world. Going forward, I have a feeling that we might see a return to the more tactile, primordial influences, but even so, all of these prehistoric influences need to be translated in a cool way and into this digital language that we are speaking,” Bonotto said.
Across the board, the digital world has already made its way onto the runway. Case in point: Chanel’s “Star Wars”-themed 2017 fall show that was dominated by digital bouclé and robotic helmets, as well as Massimo Giorgetti’s first print for the Emilio Pucci house — a motif that included sketches of tourists holding selfie sticks.
At the other end of the spectrum, more direct references to digital technology and communication have come from designers like Iris van Herpen, whose use of plissé and cymatic prints often call to mind complex computer code.
Hussein Chalayan once embedded garments with LEDs in order to adorn them with pixilated screens and partnered with Intel to enhance his collection with microchips and animatronics. In the same vein, designer Kunihiko Morinaga used augmented reality technology to emblazon messages such as Noise, Silence and Voice.
Outside of the fashion and textiles world, interior fabrics house Dedar’s latest art project entitled “Screenshot” resulted from slow downloads when fashion photographer Brigitte Niedermair and furniture designer Martino Gamper searched the “Blue Period” of artist Pablo Picasso, as well as Henri Matisse and Yves Klein on their phones in an area with poor reception. Niedermair and Gamper used the same shades of blue that appeared on their screens on the interchangeable panels for the limited-edition works, which were made to celebrate Dedar’s 40th anniversary.
French textiles fair Première Vision said, like Milano Unica, its research is also often affected and inspired by the digital world. Some 20,000 fabrics from firms worldwide pass through the hands of its fashion team each season. The same processes are carried out for all the industries and materials presented at the Première Vision shows: yarns, fabrics, leather, accessories, designs and denim.
Pascaline Wilhelm, Première Vision’s fashion director, said the digital world not only allows exhibitors access to a wider source of images but also has an impact on expression.
“Today, worlds of influence meet in an intimate way — the street, fashion shows, events, art, culture, music, new purely digital creative expression,” Wilhelm said.