Lights, Camera, Action! Runway 3.0 Models Take the Catwalk

After the swirl of the backstage, it was almost a relief to find our seats and watch the show.  FRI student intern Heather Sloma (she did some great work with us this semester which we’ll show very soon) joined us after pitching in to get Missy’s models properly bedazzled.

Missy’s demi-collection of three pieces was shown early in the show, with Britt’s senior collection closing the senior group.  We’ll start with Missy’s models, with her Virtual Runway avatar models shown on the large screen behind her live models.

Backstage Action at Runway 3.0 and Virtual Runway™

Not all the action takes place on the catwalk at a runway show.  In fact, all the preparation goes on backstage whether for a physical runway show or a Virtual Runway™ event.

We arrived in Buffalo at the Peirce-Arrow Building shortly before the first show, at 4 pm, so we missed the initial madness of hair and makeup.  We did, however, get pressed into service before the 9 pm show, where the models had to be fully prepared for the catwalk.  We had one of our other interns, Heather, join us to help backstage in getting our other two interns, Britt and Missy, ready to go.  Big thanks to Heather for jumping right in to help! Later she joined us front row for the show itself.

Both Britt and Missy opted for additional body makeup for their models, so that meant a little extra work in applying gold foil and rhinestones.  Eyelash glue is a godsend! Britt applied crushed gold foil selectively to the faces and bodies of her models, and Missy opted for rhinestones applied on the faces and in lieu of necklaces. Here we see one of the models with her necklace half-applied:

Each of Missy’s three models had a different design on both face and for the necklace.  Stunning!

Britt’s models have gold foil application well under control:

Here we see some of Britt’s models in the foreground, with Missy’s models up on the risers.

In stark contrast to physical runway show, preparing for the Virtual Runway™ presentation was a snap.  For one thing, avatar models do exactly what you tell them to, and the clothing always fits!  Plus, adding additional makeup options is very easy; we created custom makeup and skin tones for all nine of the interns’ models in less time than it took for one real life model to be made up…and we didn’t have to do retouches.

Once the models were dressed and their hair, makeup and shoes chosen, they lined up and just….waited…for their cue to strut the catwalk.  This is of course, very different from the swirl backstage at the students’ physical show. One might almost say it was serene.

Dressed and ready to go in our private OpenSim-based Fashionable Grid™: They await a simple command to strut their stuff on the catwalk .  Once we had the avatar models queued up and dressed, then we brought the students in to watch before we shot video for the screen at Runway 3.0.  The avatar models allowed the students to see their work before their physical runway show.  It was a great experience with them, since runway is usually a very expensive and gruelling experience. In comparison, Virtual Runway™ was a breeze with our students selecting from more than 800 billion customization options for their models.  they got exactly what they wanted on the runway, when they wanted it.  Tomorrow: Virtual Runway™ videos of the student interns’ work.

We are currently accepting applications for our Summer internship program. We have space for 5 more students. To apply, please send email to admin at fashionresearchinstitute.com by June 1, 2010 for Summer 2010 semester.

Preparing for Runway 3.0 at Buffalo State University

Runway 3.0 was held May 1st, and showcased the work of student designers at Buffalo State University, Buff State alumni, and local designers.  Runway, as anyone involved in the industry knows, is time consuming and laborious work, often rife with drama and with ample opportunity for mistakes. At the same time, as any fashion designer will tell you, it is often the physical representation of their hopes and dreams for a given collection.

We had the honor to work with a pair of Buffalo State University students who presented their work at Runway 3.0.  These students, Brittany Chonka and Melissa Marchand, interned with us over the last year, courtesy of Professor Elaine Polvinen.  They presented their work both on the physical Runway 3.0 catwalk as well as on our virtual version of their catwalk in our Virtual Runway™ product.  The video of their virtual work was shown on a large screen behind their physical world runway models.  We were invited to attend as honored guests, so we have imagery from both the preparation for their shows, as wella s fromt he actual runway.

Prepping for a show for an apparel brand starts almost as soon as the last model has whisked off the runway and the designer taken her bow.  Inspiration is sought, muses may be applied to, and the work of creating a fully fledged runway production starts.  In the physical world, after all the sketching is done, production starts on the runway samples, models are signed, hair and makeup designed and all of the machinery of a fully fledged production goes into motion.

Our interns came out to visit and spend a week finishing their physical collection. This is Missy, modeling Britt’s finale garment, while Britt finalizes the placement of her lighting:

Missy modeling another of Britt’s pieces. It was not as cold as it looked.

One of Missy’s pieces, modeled by of course, Missy.  The rhinestones were in fact, as much of a pain to apply as you might think, since they are backed with a thermoformable adhesive that requires hand application. In the factory, of course, they’d have a trim setup and be applied in one pass, but fr the sample, we used a prototyping technique.  Missy did a great job!

and last, the set for the interns’ Virtual Runway™ set in Fashionable Grid™:

Once the physical prototypes were done and turned in for grading, we finished the virtual apparel, and designed the models from the tips of their toes to the tips of their hair.  We’ll show that process tomorrow.

We are currently accepting applications for our Summer internship program. We have space for 5 more students. To apply, please send email to admin at fashionresearchinstitute.com.

Fashion Research Institute Launches Virtual Runway™

Virtual Runway™ Helps Fashion Designers Accelerate Their Sales and Marketing

Fashion Research Institute launches immersive, interactive runway show for apparel industry

NEW YORK — April 9, 2010 — This month, fashion leaps forward at warp speed as Fashion Research Institute launches Virtual Runway™, a 24/7 on-demand 3D runway show service for fashion designers. For the first time ever, fashion designers can quickly and easily present their design concepts in an interactive 3D environment that allows designers to cut time to market, save sample costs, and showcase their work to both wholesale and retail buyers.

Virtual Runway™ recreates the look and feel of a live show with music, 360-degree views of fully-customizable virtual models and both immersive and video capabilities.  Designers can log into their private runway studio and iterate on their designs, then showcase their work in a fully choreographed runway show. They can invite buyers, media, colleagues, and production managers into their runway studio, where they can discuss the designs as the models move around the runway.   Or designers can simply make fast, easy videos, with file sizes small enough to be sent to any mobile device.

Unlike traditional runway shows and web-shows, the Virtual Runway™ models can also interact with the audience.

“Our model avatars have artificial intelligence,” said Shenlei Winkler, CEO, Fashion Research Institute.  “They will say exactly what you tell them to say, so you can have them talk about the designs they are wearing, the designer, the collection, and any other marketing information you want them to share. You don’t need to supervise them, and even though they are multi-tasking our Virtual Runway models never miss a step.”

Virtual Runway™ has more than 800 billion stock model options available to designers, who also have an additional 900 billion choices of accessories.  This wide range of options lets designers fully customize their models, selecting from choices that include everything from more than 2,500 hairstyles and hundreds of makeup options in up to 20 skin tones.  And once the models are dressed and ready to go, a designer simply chooses a choreographed runway set and adds her own label and branding to the set.

Both local and environmental lighting is built-in, and models can be highlighted, or the entire environment changed quickly and easily to reflect the mood the designer wants for her collection.  Once the models are moving on the catwalk, designers can invite others to join her in her Virtual Runway™ studio, or she can create video that is perfect for web or mobile.

“We’re very excited about this product.” Winkler said. “We are using it to present a mirror world event on behalf of two of our best student interns from Buffalo State University.  We have created their senior fashion show inside a Virtual Runway™ studio, and have filmed the collections in advance of their actual runway show.  Our video of their virtual collections and the actual physical collections will be concurrently presented on May 1, 2010.”

Virtual Runway™ runs on top of the OpenSim platform, and training for designers to learn to use the interface and the Runway software are available through short seminars and accredited college courses.

For more information about Virtual Runway™ , please contact Jeff Russell, Director of Sales, at (631) 880-8611 or via e-mail, jeff at fashionresearchinstitute.com.

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FRI Student Interns Take Manhattan: Day Four

The Train Station at Poughkeepsie

Farewell From The Train Station

The Fashion Research Institute interns from Buffalo State University, Missy & Britt, rounded out their visit on day four.  After a long day in the City the previous day, everyone was a little hard to rouse.  We put some mileage in, criss-crossing the rag district  and searching out the last nuanced trim and detail for their collections.

Packing up, we managed to get everyone into the car and to the train station with 15 minutes to spare – only to discover that the train was running 20 minutes late.

Hosting our interns was a delight.  We were very pleased to meet these two charming young women in person.  We are looking forward to their Spring break, when they will return for help with their final run-up to turning in their collection.

Our interns had the opportunity to learn first hand about New York, the fashion capital of the world and about how the apparel industry works;.  We had a chance to make sure they located everything they needed for their collections; and they had in-depth tutoring on developing their portfolio for future endeavors.

It was a great trip, and we were very sorry to wave good-bye at the train station.

Of course, now the fun (or hard) part begins: constructing the garments for the two versions of Runway 3.0 and developing the visual story for their portfolios.  Britt and Missy will be back in six weeks for their Spring Break, where we’ll help with the technical design of their collections.

Missy Doesn't Want to Go

FRI Student Interns Take Manhattan: Day Three!

The Sourcing List

Since the FRI interns had a long and grueling day the previous day, we got a later start on Friday.  No one seemed to be in a big hurry to finish up breakfast, served in the sun-drenched family room (a definite advantage in wintery New York).  Nevertheless, we finally got ourselves loaded into the car for our hour-long drive into the City.

The trip flew past as we talked the whole way about fashion and careers, interrupted occasionally to point out areas of interest.  As we crossed into Manhattan over the Harlem River, Britt and Missy became quite excited.  Mecca for fashion designers was at our fingertips!  Dropping the car at a convenient lot, we started our long day of sourcing and more.

First we visited the FIT campus, which is a block-long street of school buildings.  We dropped into the FIT Museum, which had three exhibits currently installed.   We did a whirlwind tour and made sure to pick up all the exhibit brochures.  Both interns found something to interest them in the American Beauty exhibit.  Missy was thrilled about the evening wear; Britt was fascinated by the use of furs and leathers.  Upstairs in the revolving exhibit space, both fell in love with the early fashions.  Britt was particularly enamored of the late Victorian style clothing on display, while Missy found a length of Luminex fabric on display which captivated her.

Departing FIT, we cut across on 29th Street and popped into a couple of the event planning/party stores to source some less common trims and textile substitutes.  Often just knowing things are available will change a designer’s vision, so we were trying to expose the interns to as wide an array of products as possible.

Heading up 6th Avenue, we took in the import district, with the wide array of costume jewelry, hair supply stores, and hosiery importers.  As we crossed into Herald Square, we stopped for the ‘perfect’ shot of the Empire State building framed by the buildings on either side of 34th Street.  then we tackled Macy’s.  We didn’t have a lot of time, so we quickly walked the windows and then cut in through the main cosmetics floor and did a whirlwind visit of the “Aisles of Beauty” followed by a quick visit to the accessories, handbags, and watches.  Both declined visiting the Louis-Vuitton boutique claiming it would be ‘dangerous to their wallets’.

Heading back to 6th Avenue, we headed north to M&J Trimmings and the other bead and trim stores on 6th Avenue.  Finished there, we walked up the Avenue to Bryant Park and the tents for Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week.  It was oddly quiet, with only a few ready wagons pulled in on 6th Avenue, and a remarkably small cluster of paparazzi and visitors.  The usual gaggle of ‘models waiting to be discovered’ were very much not apparent and there was a decided lack of black cars dueling it out to deliver their passengers to the red carpet.

We’re not sure if the lack of energy was due to the poor economy or simply because when a party is over in New York, it’s over, and every trendster knows it and refuses to get caught dead at a venue that’s outdated.  Perhaps the fact that the party is moving uptown in the Fall contributed to the poor turnout; all we can say is that at 2 pm on a Friday afternoon on a relatively clement winter day, there weren’t even the usual park goers hanging out to ogle the passers-by.

Departing the tents, we dove into the rag district for the real reason for the visit: sourcing!  First stop was Leather Impact, where Brit found two skins with minor blemishes (both goatskins, one with a lovely soft golden metallic spray finish, the other a very soft 1 ounce sueded half skin) at the ‘perfect’ price, which of course made the skins ‘perfect’.

Heading around the corner to 39th Street, we went to the ‘Fabric Store of Enormous Rats’.  There are many job lotters in the rag district, all of which seem to be named things like A&J, A&S, A&A, and so on.  It’s a bit tough to differentiate them; however, the Store of Enormous Rats’ has earned this distinction by virtue of the fact that at one point a few years earlier, we were sourcing for a theatrical event and digging through the basement.  We moved a bolt of fabric and a rat ran across our feet.  Rats are semi-common in New York, but this one seemed a tad put out that his home had been moved.  At any rate, the prices at the Store of Enormous Rats are really excellent and with only minor haggling everyone can usually walk away satisfied.  Except, perhaps, the rats.

In any event, the proprietor and staff got into the spirit of the hunt and were very helpful at moving bolts around for the ladies.  We soon found Missy’s single knit jersey, which she negotiated a very good price for.  Britt had a wider array of fabrics she was sourcing, but we soon found her changeable iridescent taffeta (black to silvery grey); her lace (better than expected); and silk crepe chiffon (it’s like buttah!).  Successfully concluding Britt’s purchases, Missy was almost overwhelmed by the display of sequined fabrics by the counter, but we were able to carefully disengage the bolts from her fingers and head west to Daytona Trims.

Daytona yielded up dye, inexpensive (ok, cheap!) zippers and buttons, strapping, and best of all, stretch rhinestone trim (three guesses who bought that?)  Missy was dissuaded from purchasing all the other wide rhinestone trims by being reminded that developing her own beading patterns would let her put them in her portfolio.  Tucking everything carefully away, we headed over to 7th Avenue for a glory shot by the Fashion District Information Center, home of the giant button and needle.  Then we headed south on 7th Avenue (aka Fashion Avenue) for a quick bite at Seven on 7th to wait out rush hour.

Heading out of the City and beating our way back through the traffic, we were well content with our day, even it was remarkably rat-free.  Missy and Britt had gotten their full suite of fabrics for their collections, as well as additional trims; we had taken in some exhibits, paid our respects to the Tents at Bryant Park, we’d had the ‘chi-chi NYC restaurant’ experience, and we had a chance to experience Rush Hour in New York.  Back home, we found a fire and martinis waiting for us, as well as some light snacks.   A perfect ending to a perfect sourcing day in New York.

The Museum at FIT

Macy's "Theater"Window

Britt Sources Trims

Missy Examines the Many Choices of Rhinestones

Photographers' Entrance to NY Fashion Week Tents

Britt Checking Out Lace Options

Success!

"You Aren't Supposed to Rip....It. Oh."

"It's like Buttah!"

"This is the PERFECT Taffeta"

Haggling About the Price

Perfect Fabric! Perfect Price! Yes, She Wants It!

Settling Up....O.M.G....Sequins!

The Giant Needle at the Fashion District Information Kiosk