It’s “Project Runway” meets “Ex Machina.”
The future of fashion is artificial intelligence — and trendsetters are getting with the program for the first-ever AI fashion week in New York, which will showcase the digitally created works of emerging designers in tech.
Designers familiar with buzzy AI software like Midjourney have created full collections of 15 to 30 looks, designed 100% virtually, which will be presented on “models” walking a runway. Creatives also have “carte blanche” with the production design. Immersive experiences range from a traditional catwalk setting — complete with the chaotic backstage and A-list front row — to fantasy worlds featuring everything from beaches to dinosaurs.
Held April 20 and 21 at Soho’s Spring Studios — the same location as New York Fashion Week — a select number of collections will be shown on screens at the venue, which is open to the public on Friday.
Voting will take place online beginning Thursday while judges including legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath will help select a winner, announced in May.
But their designs won’t just exist virtually: With support through the fashion/tech incubator in partnership with the Revolve Group, the winner’s physical garments will be available to purchase IRL at trendsetting e-commerce giant, Revolve.
Cyril Foiret, founder of AI creative studio Maison Meta which is producing AIFW, told The Post that more than 400 people from all over the world, as far as Israel and several local designers here in New York, have entered the competition.
“AI fashion week hopes to pave the way for a new realm of creation,” he said. “We really think the AIFW platform will make big waves in the fashion industry and showcase what you can do and how creative you can be when it comes to AI and fashion.”
While mostly female, Foiret said the most surprising stat about the tech-savvy entrants — all of whom are well-versed in cutting-edge AI software — is the wide age range from “18 to 65 years old.”
Fran, a 57-year-old civil rights lawyer in New York, is participating after teaching herself how to use AI art generators when they became available last summer in her free time. Now, she’s adept with Midjourney, Stable Diffusion and Night Cafe and has amassed nearly 9,000 followers on Instagram where she’s been sharing her creations for the past eight months.
While she never plans to leave her job as an attorney, AI has become a fun, “easy” hobby for Fran, who asked to go by a pseudonym and have her name withheld for professional reasons.
“I got into it just because it seemed like a great creative outlet,” she told The Post. “I really was not thinking of it as anything more than just experimenting with new technology and using it as a creative outlet.”
The digital creator, who learned about AIFW through a group of fashion designers, art directors and AI artists on Instagram, said she knows it’s atypical for a Gen Xer — especially one who has little free time as a civil defense attorney for parents of children with disabilities — to become involved with new technology that seems complex to outsiders.
“It’s a little bit unusual because I’m older than most people who would be in the space right now,” she said.
But it was a natural progression for Fran, who was a photographer for several years, shooting NYFW and other editorials, before giving it up in 2016 to focus on her law practice.
“As an ex-photographer, I was very interested in exploring the power of AI to create photorealistic and inspirational images,” she explained. “I’m interested in fashion photography, but I’m a sweatpants person.”
One such AI-generated image with hundreds of likes on her @ai_fashion_photos page — a woman in a bathtub with flowers — began from an actual photo Fran snapped. Sometimes her process involves using her own images to design much more “elaborate” editorials, either blending images together or changing specific details, while other times she works with Midjourney’s text prompt software to generate a scene from scratch.
While she acknowledges that AI presents serious risks and should not replace human creativity — a much-discussed topic as of late with ChatGPT’s growing popularity and fears of a looming dystopia — Fran believes it’s also an incredible tool.
“AI is already impacting the world and, as every time with new technology, we will see a huge impact in the world,” Foiret said. “We do not think it will end some jobs per se, but will give new opportunities and introduce new tools for creatives and companies.”
Plus, Fran said that dreaming up fashion editorials “that would be extremely difficult and challenging to create” is far more efficient with AI.
“It’s obviously a lot faster to generate AI art than, coordinating a fashion shoot, shooting and post-production,” she said.
Foiret said that’s exactly the inspiration behind AI fashion week: to give a platform for creatives who have access to technology, but maybe not the millions of dollars it requires to create full blown collections.
“We are so happy to have created this strong AI fashion community, and it is just the start,” he said. “We really want to give the opportunity to anyone who is using these tools to maybe become a future big fashion designers.”
Source : New York Post