Nick Knight and SHOWstudio’s first step into Web 3.0 is about more than beautifying NFTs. Over a decade-spanning career, the fearless Knight has consistently had his sights set on the future, so it should come as no surprise that the Metaverse is the next digital frontier for the creative maverick. Titled ikon-1, 8,000 photorealistic avatars made in collaboration with Jazzelle – the model and Instagram star also known as @Uglyworldwide – will act as a porthole for ikon-1 NFT owners to access a new era of beauty and style in the Metaverse.
Since the creative visionary founded the website SHOWstudio at the turn of the millennium, the award-winning platform has continuously strived to break new ground with its commitment to utilising the latest technologies. Knight and SHOWstudio made history in 2010 with Alexander McQueen’s S/S 11 collection, Plato’s Atlantis; the first runway show to ever be live-streamed, the technology is now commonplace at fashion week. Pioneering the use of emerging technologies in fashion, including artificial intelligence and CGI, Knight began experimenting with 3D scanning in 1998. Soon after, Knight would transform global icons including Lady Gaga, Kanye West, Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell into virtual beings for music videos and fashion films. Housing these projects on SHOWstudio, the platform’s goal has always been to push the possibilities of fashion image-making forward, whilst inviting the audience to witness the entire process.
‘We’re creating the first NFT with feelings, with emotions, and with a point of view’, Knight explains. For the unanointed, NFTs are non-fungible tokens which consist of digital data that's stored on the blockchain. What makes the virtual assets wholly unique is the encrypted data that allows for the ability to trace ownership and prevent replication. Each ikon-1 features a one-off combination of 200 unique traits that includes virtual fashion, makeup, hair, and nail looks created by a cohort of over 40 innovators, designers, and mavericks at the forefront of fashion's digital future, personally curated by Knight and Zanaughtti. Once minted, each NFT from the ikon-1 collection will grant access to future events, together with a personal homepage displaying the full 3D model of Zanaughtti.
Though the growing popularity of NFTs has resulted in a burgeoning digital market which has fast become saturated by marketing ploys and fashion brands jumping on a bandwagon, for Knight the importance of the ikon-1 project is rooted in the potential of authorship and ownership that the blockchain structure of Web 3.0 provides. Choosing long-time collaborator Zanaughtti as the muse for the project was based on the model’s highly curated personal appearance, both on and offline. ‘Jazzelle, for me, is one of those contemporary figures who created her own world on the internet,’ explains Knight. ‘She’s an author of her own image, which is central to this project.’
Also central to this collection of NFTs are the creative forces at the forefront of fashion’s digital future. Knight hand-selected a cohort of creative minds to bring his distinct aesthetic to the blockchain. The ikon-1 collection was brought to life with collaborator and digital artist Tom Wandrag, who was previously Knight’s digital retoucher before the pair reunited to create Burberry’s first fully CGI campaign starring an avatar of Kendall Jenner in 2020. Having spent recent years exploring the possibilities of the digital sphere, from video games to virtual fashion campaigns, Wandrag explains that ‘blockchain and NFT technology offer a totally new way to communicate, it’s a new form of publishing.’ For the digital pioneer, ‘CGI, and in particular video games, are key to this future, so our focus on fashion, games and blockchain will create a hub to develop new forms of experience and aesthetics.’ Like with many of his IRL editorial shoots, Knight has enlisted the help of industry powerhouses hair stylist Eugene Souleiman and nail technician Marian Newman, who’ve worked for brands like Maison Margiela, Louis Vuitton, and Christian Dior.
While these partnerships bridge the world of high fashion and Web 3.0, this project was also an opportunity to work with artists from a global digital ecosystem . 40 creatives, made up of both virtual design natives and newcomers, were tasked with exploring the limitless possibilities of the digital sphere to create virtual clothing and accessories that make up the 8,000 self-styled avatars. ‘I love make-up and looks, and [in the metaverse] there’s literally no limits. I can be whoever I want, look however I want, Jazzelle explains. ‘I couldn’t have that in real life! This is a vision of me in the year 3000’.
As SHOWstudio enters this next phase centred around the world of Web 3.0, this collection of NFTs only scratches the surface of Knight’s Metaverse ambitions. ‘My aim is to make SHOWstudio into a virtual space where you can come interact in a meaningful and entertaining way. And this project is the first step towards that,’ he explains. ‘Like the McQueen livestream over a decade ago, SHOWstudio is about creating dynamic ways of engaging with a worldwide audience. The big thing is [ikon-1] gets you into the world of SHOWstudio. It’s a ticket, a membership so you become a part of this community. It’s just the first of many projects we have lined up.’
To get the latest on ikon-1 and all of SHOWstudio’s future Web 3.0 projects join the community on Discord. Plus, on 11 August there will be a special Q&A hosted by David Cash and Nick Knight at 17:00 BST.