The Fashion Show Turned Arcade Video Game

by Hetty Mahlich on 22 February 2023

Designer Lula Laora chose to live out their fashion game fantasy for A/W 23 with Arcade.

Designer Lula Laora chose to live out their fashion game fantasy for A/W 23 with Arcade.

Fashion brands have cemented their relationship with the gaming industry in recent years, creating virtual clothes for in-game experiences, and swapping out the catwalk for interactive video games (in the case of Balenciaga's A/W 21 collection). For A/W 23's Arcade, London-based designer Lula Laora created video game characters to both inspire and embody their latest collection, staged within a series of virtual landscapes.

Lula Laora A/W 23 'Arcade'

Although dressed appearance has always been fundamental for gamers when creating their characters - they call in-game clothes 'skins' - it's only more recently that we've seen a boom in fashion gaming. In 2019, Louis Vuitton and Riot Games partnered for the world-popular game League of Legends' championship with a collection of virtual and IRL clothing. The rest followed, with a host of names collaborating with The Sims, including Stefan Cooke and Moschino, and others such as Marc Jacobs and Mowalola creating looks for Animal Crossing. Minecraft have released collections with Lacoste and Burberry, Fortnite with Burberry and 1017 ALYX 9SM for Moncler, and of course there was the limited edition Gucci Xbox Series X console set which sold for $10,000.

The list goes on, however the success of such a collaboration is dependent on authenticity - how much does a brand really understand gaming? Too often, designers aren't gamers themselves and simply see an opportunity to cash in and capture a new audience. Lula Laora, however, is a gamer at heart, often attending Comic Con and dressing in cosplay. 'The idea to create characters and a virtual universe was a big dream', she tells me. Playing the role of each character within her virtual A/W 23 presentation, she took inspiration from her own favourite fantasy worlds, including Lord Of The Rings, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, The Matrix, animé television series Sailor Moon and video games Mortal Kombat and Dead or Alive 3.

Lula Laora A/W 23 'Arcade'

'I'm happy the industry is picking up on this. For a long time, being a gamer was not cool, it was secluded. It's also an essentially masculine world; videos game have been designed for men by men', Laora says of gaming's rising popularity within fashion, and how it could cause beneficial change. Indeed, she recollects some of her earliest experiences of video games as a young girl, where they only players available were wildly sexualised.

When it came to creating Arcade, Laora wanted to represent powerful female characters, who are in fact played by the designer. She describes one of the three virtual worlds created for the showcase, inspired by anime and gaming, as the backdrop for a 'cute but deadly, badass girl'. Working with friend and digital artist Andrew Totah alongside a VFX team, Laora embodies nine looks and characters across the three worlds, which include a bio-mechanic setting inspired in-part by The Matrix and a fantastical, nature-inspired world. Each character has a power move, such as a high-fly kick, and a weapon, like a fluorescent pink ball and chain. 'It was important for every character to have a strong story. You need to get in a second who the character is', Laora explains. 'We had a lot of fun designing and making this.'

Lula Laora A/W 23 'Arcade'

In the future, the designer hopes to do something more interactive involving VR, where viewers will be able to play the game. That however is an expensive venture which will have to wait, but in no way takes away from the vibrant, creative joy evident throughout Arcade.

Lula Laora A/W 23 'Arcade'




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