Meta-Vivienne meets the Metaverse
Vivienne Tam transcends reality with her latest, NFT-adorned collection at New York Fashion Week.

  There is nothing more wonderfully off-putting than the idea of another universe, perhaps because it’s so difficult for us to fathom a version of ourselves in a reality that is not our own. But designer Vivienne Tam isn’t one to fall victim to fear, instead breaking all rules by creating her own reality  — the TAMverse — in her Fall/Winter 2023 collection.

Swan Sit, the creator of Tam’s metaverse, and model Jal Bui, who walked in the designer’s immersive show, expressed the same sentiment: Tam has always been one step ahead of the industry.

Before Bathing Ape NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, paraded down the runway, attendees arrived to find two rooms, both washed in electric pink. One was the room they walked into, and the other a digital replica of that exact same room, projected onto the screen at Spring Studios — a duplicate in the Metaverse.

“We mirrored the real world to the Metaverse down to the purple-pink hue of the room, down to the New York skyline,” Sit said, noting that the Metaverse version of the show was accurate even behind the show, offering special access to a virtual portal showing hair and makeup being done backstage.

Tati Gabrielle from the hit Netflix show “You” and Zoë Chao from HBO Max’s “Love Life” sat arm-in-arm at the physical show with Christine Ko, who stars in Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building.” A small TV with a ring light sat in the corner of the room next to the glass windows, out of the way of the curved, white benches embracing the runway’s center. Curious attendees approached the TV, watching as a camera linked their reflection to the Metaverse displayed on the screen. In the Metaverse, each attendee’s persona was housed in a small box that read “IRL,” which digital attendees could interact with.
“We had these portals where people could talk to each other,” Sit said. “It was important to us that whether you come to the show in real life or in the virtual world, you’re an equal. For us, it was an extension of the real world to break that fourth wall and make sure that everyone is included.”

Despite the futuristic, utopian scenes of Hong Kong that began migrating across the screen as the lights dimmed, all attention remained on the physical — the clothes, and the NFTs draping off of them. One by one, models rolled out, sauntering to the pop beat of “Sit Still, Look Pretty” in varying styles of platform Dr. Martens and streetwear jackets that were adorned with puffy, quilted NFTs.

Though the collection was interlaced with technology, there were still elements that remained true to Tam’s earlier work. Ancient symbols from oracle bone script, China’s earliest language, were reinterpreted onto patterned stockings alongside the 12 zodiac animals, which were skimming across sheer sleeves in a playful nod to Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. A few of Tam’s designs included Ghanaian Adinkra symbols depicting the sun, the moon and layered circles — all of which found their way onto knits, long dresses and embroideries.

The show’s clothing lineup offered elevated textures, turning sexy and sturdy denim into leg warmers that rested above knee-high socks. Neon colors lit up two-toned knit balaclavas and fuzzy faux-fur bucket hats, brought back down to earth only by dark wash denim jeans held up by Miu Miu-esque double-belted leather. One model donned perhaps the most important outfit of them all — a set with a single print that combined all of Tam’s favorite NFTs to form a graphical map of Hong Kong.

“This is a breakthrough,” Tam said. “We’re bringing the virtual world and the physical world together. I just want to bring compassion and harmony to the world.”

Tam stood in front of her metaverse at the end of the show, with her eyes closed and hands pressed together, as if in prayer.

The loudspeaker hummed sweetly, growing progressively louder until the finale, when an invisible voice spoke a soft thank you to Tam and the audience — leaving us with a final token of wisdom, rather than the digital ones we had already been given.

“Make peace more fashionable than war,” the invisible voice proclaimed to the crowd at the show’s after party.

If peace comes with the purchase of a Vivienne Tam NFT, I’m confident we’re all sold.


Article originally published on Washington Square News. Photo by Roshni Raj for WSN. 

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