Oh heavens. I need motion sickness pills, please. I understand the desire of fashion labels to jump on new technology quickly and try to be the first one out there to master whatever social media platform might be the next big thing, but when those technologies themselves are still new and largely untried they can result in less than desirable results. That is exactly what happened with this afternoon’s Diane von Furstenberg show. All week long, she’s been touting the live stream on Twitter’s new Periscope platform. So, we opted to take up that challenge and watch the show on the tablet-sized phone I carry around. There’s really only one word to describe the experience: Fail.
I understand why designers might want to embrace the new streaming technology. Multi-camera live streaming, which has become the norm for major fashion shows around the world, is rather expensive and the equipment can get in the way of people on site who actually need to see the show. Periscope offers a free (for now) platform to stream any event using any WiFi-enabled mobile device, thus eliminating a major cost and headache from an already chaotic pre-show schedule. In DVF’s case, her plan was to give the assignment to her brand assignment, which would tie in with the beginning of the second season of House of DVF reality show which begins tonight. On paper, it sounds like a great plan.
Reality bites, though. The first problem came before the show when attempts at streaming behind-the-scenes footage quickly ran out of space, allowing only 60 people to view the stream at a time. That problem had been addressed by show time, but it created more than a little concern whether the technology was going to be viable at all. Second, DVF’s brand ambassador, Brittany Hampton, is a beautiful, intelligent, and well-spoken young woman, but she apparently knows nothing about video framing. Prior to the show, she kept switching views so that sometimes we were looking at her neck, other times we had a great view of the floor, and a couple of times were able to inspect the nasal cavity of the person sitting next to her. Third, camera stability was non-existent and for those of us predisposed to motion sickness in the first place this was a horrible ride from which there was no escape. I can’t remember the last time I was so anxious for a show to end. Fourth (yes, this is a long list), the frame rate of the stream was so low we weren’t able to discern any details in the garments as the faceless models zipped past. I could see color and general ideas about silhouettes and patterns, but a pencil and watercolor sketch would have given me more accurate information.
When one drops back to the relatively ancient technology of still photography, one gets a more precise view of what DVF sent down the runway. Inspired by a pre-Raphaelite painting of Fortuna, goddess of luck, justice and liberty, the spring/summer collection is full of bright colors, delicate prints, and multi-colored fringe used as trim on everything from skirt hems to pocket lining to handbags. Diane seems smitten with polka-dots this season, so there are plenty of them all over the collection, but not to the point one becomes ill. There’s also a bit of an understated toga motif one notices most often in the gold lamè pieces, but again, it’s not overwhelming. The pieces still look contemporary and sharp.
Makeup was clean and contoured. Hair was down in a well-coiffed wave with large floral accents. Strappy open-toe heels matched the color tone of the ensemble but weren’t so dependent on the outfit as to not work with anything else in your closet. Knotted belts and drawstring closures, which have become a DVF mainstay, maintained a sense of brand continuity. When given a chance to actually stop and consider the clothes, they’re classic DVF silhouettes beautifully adapted for strong, contemporary, high-powered women.
Ms. von Furstenberg also scores very high on our diversity test, with just over half the models being non-caucasian. This was a beautiful sight that dramatically enhances the strength of the collection, proving that this is a line that looks good on all women, provided one has the confidence and attitude to go with it. We’ll give her a nine out of ten on our scale.
While I did not mind not being squeezed between sweaty strangers in a hot and humid facility in the middle of Manhattan, I think I would have better tolerated that situation than the motion nightmare that was Periscope streaming. Maybe if they start putting image stabilization into mobile devices like they do professional cameras and lenses that will help a touch, but for the moment the technology just isn’t ready for something as fast-paced as a fashion show. Let’s stick with real cameras for a bit, shall we? Thank you.