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© Selfridges and Gareth Pugh

Selfridges debuts virtual reality designer display

By Retail Technology | Thursday January 9 2014

Fashion designer Gareth Pugh takes customers on a virtual reality journey using the latest immersive technologies at the premium London department store

Creative production company Inition has produced an innovative virtual reality experience for Selfridges to mark fashion designer Gareth Pugh’s first appearance this month on the London Collection: Men’s Schedule

The MONOLITH installation includes a futuristic cutting-edge immersive journey into the inspirations and aesthetics of the acclaimed designer’s vision for his new collection.
Immersive technology experiences 

Gareth Pugh said: “The inspiration for this piece really came from the desire to create a totally immersive experience. I’ve always believed in the importance of fashion film and new technology as a means of communication, but the team at Inition were able to propose a new and exciting way for us to approach this project. It's an exciting opportunity to re-imagine my aesthetic in a totally new context.”

Pugh worked with Inition 3D artists to ensure the multi-sensory experience truly reflected his inspirations, which were based on an outfit he created last year for a Royal Ballet production called "Carbon Life" — which he described as “a little fairground attraction” aimed to transport the viewer into a world where that outfit might exist.

Futuristic fashion display experience

Housed within Selfridges’ first floor Men’s Designerwear concept, the installation invites visitors to step inside an imposing two-metre tall chamber, and embark upon a two-minute journey through Pugh’s visual world, which uses Oculus Rift virtual reality headset technology. 

Wearing a headset designed by Pugh, and reminiscent of his iconic theatrical showpieces, guests are advised to hold on to hand rails provided in case of ‘momentary loss of balance’. They are then immersed in a monochromatic world of graphic cityscapes, figures in combat, undulating walls and seemingly endless horizons, all underscored by an industrial atmospheric sound track produced by London based artist Matthew Stone.

Alannah Weston, Selfridges creative director, was one of the first to test the virtual display and pronounced it “incredible, as it expresses what Gareth is all about — there’s something quite futuristic and something quite Gothic but very precise and clean at the same time”. “It’s intense,” she added, describing the experience, “it’s hot [referring to the mask itself] and the music [artist Matthew Stone masterminded the soundtrack] is awesome.”

Pugh added: “The title, Monolith, is the perfect description for this piece: something singular and imposing, and in some way otherworldly. I imagine that each person will view it differently, but I would hope that it's something memorable and engaging. 

"Ultimately the installation requires a little commitment, you need to step into that world - from the padded sound-proofed booth to the angular head piece required to view the installation… they're all considered parts of this unique experience.”

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