What happens when the static image in fashion is no longer compelling or adequate? What happens when a new generation starts to insist that these perfectly crafted images should start to move to the current rhythm… the digital pulse of the internet, of the iPad… of their smart-phones? The consumer has started moving faster than the producers of fashion in terms of adjusting to an idea of fashion that promises to be a visual revolution. And yet there are a few pioneering companies who are now engaging this shift to their early advantage.
As a part of a new MDX series we sought to explore the issue with Petronio Associates, the agency formed by Ezra Petronio and Suzanne Koller in 1994. Petronio and Associates also publishes the biannual fashion magazine Self Service. As a creative agency the company’s client list represents a selection of some of the world’s leading luxury brands including A.P.C., Chanel, Chloé, Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, Prada and Yves Saint Laurent.
In addition to this video cut exclusively for MDX, featuring some of the agency’s landmark ad work as well as a preview of some forthcoming images Petronio and Associates shared some quick thoughts on the issue of modern digital fashion.
On embracing the possibilities of the iPad:
We really liked the idea that people all over the world could access Self Service magazine through the app. We wanted to reach out to our readers outside of Europe. We had a really positive reaction from Self Service readers and clients on our made-to-measure iPad ads for Yves Saint Laurent, Love Chloé fragrance and A.P.C. We are exploring more possibilities for the Self Service issue n°35 app.
On what the consumer is looking for from digital fashion:
We don’t think he is looking for anything particularly different than when he opens a print magazine: a voice, soul, vision and creativity. Consumers won’t sacrifice on quality, clarity, information and immediacy on digital platforms.
Yves Saint Laurent Edition 24 2010 Digital lookbook
On Self Service magazine as a design lab for Petronio Associates:
It’s more of a mood that we share rather than specific ideas. It’s also a way to meet like-minded people. Self Service is a window on to our creative work and reveals our graphic and design sensibilities. We enjoy having this creative experimental outlet that remains separate from Petronio Associates. Having Self Service and the agency provokes strong creative crossover in terms of photography and art direction.
On balancing aesthetic values within the limits of technology:
While there are certain restrictions and adaptations that need to be made with digital design, they are not all that different than the restrictions that exist within traditional formats. Each type media provides an opportunity. It’s important to work with the media and not against it. Each format is best at displaying certain types of content and should be used as such –an iPad is not a TV, a webpage is not a book or magazine. Something beautiful can be created for any media without compromise. All of our clients want to embrace digital. They’re interested and know they have to be present so our role is to advise and accompany them. Recently we were asked by Yves Saint Laurent to conceive of the communications strategy around the Edition 24 2010 collection. From the shoot we were able to create a film for their website, digital look book and visual identity for the brand.
On digitally platforming a mass market US brand or fast fashion company:
We love the idea. It just happened incidentally that we work with European clients. It would be an interesting challenge to work with a mass market US brand. We would definitely find it an interesting challenge to adapt a high-fashion aesthetic to a fast-fashion company.
Is the luxury consumer still driven by print or is digital becoming primary?
In our view the attention of the consumer is focused mainly on the internet because of the immediacy of the medium, which doesn’t just apply to luxury goods. For the luxury customer nothing can replace the experience of going into a store or reading a high-fashion magazine, at least for the moment.
Do things like detailing, high quality, craftsmanship or subtle texture gets noticed on a computer?
The tactile quality of objects will become more and more objects of luxury, possibly enhancing their value and quality of the content we put on them. As things become more internet-oriented a printed edition of Self Service magazine will become something more collectable and precious, as people collect objects and value them.