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Virtual runway: Prabal Gurung for ICB and See by Chloé unveil digital-only fashion shows

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ICB by Prabal Gurung chartreuse brushed wool cape coat with smocked back yoke, midnight wool knit snood. Courtesy of ICB
News_See by Chloe_fall 2012
See by Chloé red jacquard jumper, red jacquard cardigan, pink corduroy slim pants, off-white calfskin and suede pointy boots. Courtesy of See by Chloé
News_Prabal Gurung for ICB_March 2012
ICB by Prabal Gurung persimmon stretch wool twill blazer with midnight lamb leather lapel, indigo silk double georgette collared blouse, midnight wool saxony double pleat trouser with tuxedo side trim detail. Courtesy of ICB
News_Prabal Gurung for ICB_March 2012
ICB by Prabal Gurung azalea silk crepe de chine kaleidoscope print sleeveless dress with drop waist double layer skirt and hibiscus silk crepe de chine kaleidoscope print collared blouse. Courtesy of ICB
News_Prabal Gurung for ICB_March 2012
News_See by Chloe_fall 2012
News_Prabal Gurung for ICB_March 2012
News_Prabal Gurung for ICB_March 2012

NEW YORK — The future is now.

For the past few years, designers have mulled over the idea of staging a digital fashion show, where the only way to view the collection is online. This fashion season, for the first time, two have taken the plunge.

During Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, Prabal Gurung debuted a line he developed for International Concept Brands, which is owned by Japanese retail giant Onward Kashiyama. The ICB collection will appear in U.S. stores in the fall.

It's easier to see the clothes on video than in a crowded room where it's oftentimes hard to get a good head-to-toe look. But without an audience, the show has a sterile feeling.

 The show, accessible to select retailers, buyers and fashion editors who signed in to a website with a special code, featured 32 looks, as models walked around in a stark white room while music played in the background — just like at a runway show.

In addition to head-to-toe views, there were close-up shots, so you could see the intricate smock detailing on a chartreuse cape, the flowing angel wing ribbons on the shoulders of a white blouse or the lace insets on a dress, thanks to the wonders of HD technology.

The collection is clean and modern, with stark shades — persimmon, aubergine, chartreuse, indigo — and colorful hibiscus and azalea prints. Clothes are cut in a way that a young hip twentysomething girl would love, with colorful cropped jackets, a shift with slashes that reveal a contrasting shade underneath and tiered ombre dresses with ethereal floating hemlines.

Gurung praised the digital runway format as a modern way to make lives easier for buyers and the fashion press. "It's a tool that I think will change the fashion world and make us see fashion shows in a different way," he said.

He has a point. It's easier to see the clothes on video than in a crowded room where it's oftentimes hard to get a good head-to-toe look. But without an audience, the show has a sterile feeling — and since clothes often look different when seen in person rather than on video, there are some nagging doubts that what you see is what you'll get in stores.

And I miss the final runway walk where all the models come out one last time to rapturous applause and the designer shyly waves to the adoring audience while Anna Wintour, trailed by her bodyguard/driver,scurries out to beat the crowd to the next show.

On the first day of Paris Fashion Week Wednesday, the fall collection of See by Chloé also debuted in the same way. (Both shows were shown in a format devised by KCD, the New York agency that handles many top shows like Marc Jacobs and Alexander McQueen.)

Against a white marble wall flecked with veins of black, models strolled out in loose diaphanous dresses, belted jackets, wrapped silk blouses and skinny trousers in muted colors. A flannel coat with leather sleeves and a red jacquard cardigan were among the eye-catching items in the collection, which featured 32 looks. And the accessories — pointy ankle booties and a doctor's bag carried upside down — have a cool, urban vibe.

As the secondary, lower priced Chloé line, though, it probably wouldn't have attracted near this much attention if it weren't shown on the virtual runway.

See by Chloé fall 2012 collection:

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