Fashion Forward: Style Innovation for a Digital Age

An explosion of digital innovation in recent years has given fashion brands the chance to explore previously unheard of possibilities, from Louis Vuitton pioneering e-commerce in France, to a revival of fashion history at Chanel. And plenty in between. Above all, technology has provided a new medium for labels, from heritage brands to avant-garde innovators, to explore and express their identity and style, and to take the stories, ideas and icons who that provided their foundation forwards into a new digital dimension. We take a look at the brands which are doing it best, through a few of the technological treats on offer.

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Chanel
In homage to its famous history, the classic French brand launched Inside Chanel as a digital project exploring the brand’s development and the life of its founder, the Grand Dame of French fashion, Coco Chanel. In a series of nine engaging multimedia videos which form the chapters of Chanel‘s rich past, we are treated to archive footage, famous quotes and animated illustrations which are just as informative as they are stylish. In the final two instalments, Coco by Karl and Chanel by Karl, the brand’s creative designer and a fashion legend in his own right,Karl Lagerfeld, steps in front of the lens to share his vision and understanding of this classic brand, and his thoughts on bringing Coco‘s classic style into the modern age. Let him lead you back in time with these bite-sized episodes of fashion history.

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Louis Vuitton
This October, Louis Vuitton became the first French brand make a splash in the world of m-commerce with a new smartphone and tablet app allowing shoppers to browse and buy Louis Vuitton products on the go. To get the word out, the brand collaborated with illustrator Jordi Labanda on a short graphic film which shows Paris’ Pont Alexandre III spreading across the continent to symbolize the development of European e-commerce, much to the joy of cosmopolitan shoppers who are can now find Louis Vuitton‘s latest collection of shoes, bags and clothes at their fingertips. In another video collaboration earlier this month, the French brand joined up with filmmaker Quentin Jones to create a bold, graphic clip presenting their Fall/Winter 2013-2014 accessories, which is also on the website, along with plenty more digital gems to uncover.

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Burberry
British heritage brand, Burberry has worked hard to establish itself globally as a digital innovator, leading the charge in interactive online fashion projects. This season, with Burberry Kisses you can send a digital kiss anywhere in the world, by taking a snap of your pout, choosing from a selection of lip shades, and popping the kiss in a virtual envelope with your personal note to be sent directly to a loved one. The website even plots all the kisses on an interactive map, so you can follow the spread of digital affection in real time. Burberry is also celebrated for projects like the long-running Art of the Trench, which provides a platform for fashion lovers to share snaps of themselves in the brand’s classic trench coat on the Burberry website, virtual trench coat-builder and interaction on social media, including a sleek Pinterest account which reinforces the brand’s classic British style with a board of beautiful shots of London, and another devoted entirely to the Great British weather. With all of this on offer, there’s no excuse not to jump on board with the British pioneers of digital fashion.

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Jean Paul Gaultier
This season, Jean Paul Gaultier has breathed new life into his iconic perfumes Classique andLe Male with a glamorous video featuring models Jarrod Scott and Rianna Ten Haken, who embody the classic scents. The video sees the stars bringing a romantic narrative to the renowned fragrances in a fresh, innovative development that remains in keeping withGaultier‘s typically sensual, seductive style. Jean Paul Gaultier‘s website has also been given an interactive, digital make-over with the latest innovations in animation and games to set the brand’s classic features and motifs firmly in the digital age… plus a little humour from the enfant terrible of fashion, bien sûr.

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Hermès
This October Hermès brings its classic style to the digital ring, with a brand new app revisiting its legendary silk scarves. The app, which is free to download from iTunes, offers tutorials on six knots which can be used to sneak a silk scarf into any outfit, in over 20 different suggested styles. The app is featured on the Hermès website with a short promotional video, and is just one digital delight from an on-screen grid of different interactive Hermès products and playful animations. Don’t miss the interactive illustration of a French workshop and boutique just waiting to be explored, or the animation that unveils a different model from the brand’s collection of geometric print silk scarves with every click.

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Maison Martin Margiela
Maison Martin Margiela describes itself as “iconoclastic” on its Twitter page, and if the label’s highly original website – a nod to its “anti-fashion” style – is anything to go by, we’d have to agree. The avant-garde French brand presents a homepage designed to look like a collection of Internet Explorer windows, each of which leads to a part of the Margiela world. “Universe” links to the brand’s Facebook page, and “News” opens Maison Martin Margiela‘s Twitter page but unlike many other fashion brands, there is no information about their history or identity, a reflection of the signature style of a label that keeps its design team anonymous and often masks its model’s faces at fashion shows.

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Prada
Prada has always been a patron of the arts, collaborating across genres to create innovative work, which in recent years has taken on a decidedly digital edge. Notably, the Prada book, a beautifully crafted luxury tome exploring the history of the Italian brand in rich images and text. The book was released in print version in 2009, but the whole volume is also available online in a scrollable digital format to be perused at leisure. The brand’s site also features work from Prada Journal, a writing competition launched by the brand last year, with winning pieces read by prominent literary figures in videos available on the site. We also love the time-lapse video of the Heart of the Multitude project, which shows artists invited by Prada decorating the walls of the brand’s Spring/Summer 2014 show venue, a sneak peek backstage at the show’s production.

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Dior
Dior has recently unveiled a new, high-tech website complete with smooth design, beautiful photos, and updated, inspiring content. One feature of this new website is Dior en Vidéo, a scrolling wall of videos which includes promotional clips, behind-the-scenes exclusives, and the latest runway footage for a live look at life inside one of the biggest houses in the business. For a recent project, the brand collaborated with Fantastic Man magazine to create five videos in a series called Rotation, which combines dance with fashion, showing talented performers pulling off complex moves whilst wearing Dior Hommes Fall/Winter 2013-2014collection. The videos are also available on Dior‘s YouTube account, which includes even more material, including a graphic video that looks back at the history of the house signature colour red and the brand’s iconic and empowering lipstick, plus many more snapshots from the world of Dior.

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Van Cleef & Arpels
Luck has always been a strong theme in the work of Van Cleef & Arpels, a fine jewellery label known for embellishing their luxury jewellery with good-luck charms such as four-leafed clovers and ladybirds. The brand is celebrating this tradition with a new interactive feature on their website, which allows users to choose a precious metal, a collection, and a quote about luck to generate a short clip to send to a loved one with a note, in a virtual lucky charm. The brand’s website also features an interactive studio tour, which gives jewellery lovers the opportunity to explore the production process and go behind the scenes in the Van Cleef & Arpels studio. The interactive tour guides you through the different rooms and floors of the workshop, with informative videos and texts about the brand to give you all the insider knowledge you could possibly dream of.

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Guerlain
Shalimar, the French brand’s iconic perfume, was inspired by the passionate love story of Muhgal Emperor Shâh Jahân and Indian princess Mumtaz Mahal. The tale, which captured the imagination of Jaques Guerlain when told to him by a maharajah passing through Paris, has been reinterpreted in a short film from the brand which distills the epic romance into a three minute clip with all the force, passion and stylish production of a Hollywood blockbuster. The film stars model Natalia Vodianova as the princess whose story unfolds in the breathtaking Indian countryside, in a dramatic revival of a classical tale of romance that takes us back to the roots of Guerlain‘s legendary fragrance.

Originally posted on the Vogue Paris Huffington Post blog here.

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