Riccardo Tisci called upon frequent collaborators Nick Knight, art director Peter Saville and stylist Katy England to work on Burberry's first virtual campaign featuring supermodel Kendall Jenner. Together with filmmaker Britt Lloyd and CGI artist Tom Wandrag, the result is a virtual sun-drenched space inspired by geometric skateparks and swimming pools where, decked out in the Saville designed Burberry monogram, a CGI avatar of Jenner kicks back.
Having ventured into the world of online gaming last year with ‘B Bounce’, Burberry's new summer capsule of womenswear and menswear pieces is realised in a dreamlike digital world, created by the iconic team of British creatives. A digital step up from last season's Thomas Burberry Monogram Collection campaign featuring Gigi Hadid, the new film sees a virtual Jenner take on four more distinct Burberry characters. ‘I'm delighted that Riccardo Tisci and Burberry have decided to go in this direction. It will change how people see fashion campaigns' says Knight.
The process began with Jenner shooting a series of photographs of herself from 360 degrees in order for Tom Wandrag, Knight's previous retoucher and an expert in CGI technology, and his specialist team to render her in 3-D. Everybody then worked together over Zoom, directing another model wearing a motion capture suit, whose movements were then mirrored by the CGI rendering of Jenner. 'The creative conversation is no different- it's still about people's imaginations and people's desires- but the final outcome is very different. You can do things in CGI that would be impossible to do otherwise. The camera can twist and spiral in on micro details, move to a viewpoint from under the floor. It can move in a way inconceivable to conventional filmmaking or photography' Knight explains. Filmmaker Britt Lloyd was on hand to finesse details such as the camera angles, lighting and movement, determining the viewer's experience as we follow Jenner around the futuristic space. Donning a monogrammed bucket hat, the camera spins round her skateboard as she races past. Light and shadow moves across her as she lays out in her turtleneck bodysuit, later accessorised by a cyan blue Lola bag or TB monogrammed surfboard.
With the industry having been forced to work solely in the virtual space as a result of lockdown, creatives are presented with the possibilities for a more sustainable way of working by employing exciting new visual languages only in their infancy. 'Riccardo spoke to me right at the beginning of lockdown, asking if we could we create a campaign in CGI. I loved the idea, I think it's a very intelligent move forward into that world. The thing that really excited me is that it's very sustainable. One of the things that we do too much in the fashion industry is flying models and clothes around the globe. However for this Burberry campaign, we didn't need to gather together in one studio with 150 crew members and all the things that go with that. It's a really good message to send out- there are other ways of making fashion campaigns.'
Having pioneered the use of fashion film, also working with mediums including CGI, AI and VR over the past 20 years at SHOWstudio, Knight highlights that the industry has been slow to catch up with the digital revolution. 'Fashion has actually been quite slow in catching up to where video games and Hollywood films have already been- where all these things such as changing the lighting or a camera angle, are now at the twist of a console dial. Current generations are very capable, we're skilled in self imagery and the selfie- Kendall Jenner is a very good example of someone who has created an image of herself.' As Knight points out, CGI allows for precise control how the clothes look, work and feel to the viewer, in turn opening up possibilities for the designer. 'The Burberry campaign is an example of finding a new way to involve people in the creation of images, outside of the structures of conventional fashion image making' he adds. 'For those calling for more reality, no one's saying it can only be this, but we should be embracing all new ways of making fashion imagery.'