Must-see in 2013” lists are everywhere at the moment, and topping the blockbuster-expectation scale is the sequel to JJ Abrams’s 2009 re-imagining of the TV classic Star Trek. Though the film, Star Trek Into Darkness, is not due out until May, fashion is already dipping a toe in the Trekkie water, and embracing that science-fiction basic: the hologram.
Consider, for example, Marc Jacobs’ hologram pink sheath sequin dress, Hussein Chalayan’s silver holographic leggings, and Stella McCartney’s rainbow Olegram Hologram clutch, which sold out at Saks and in Stella McCartney shops upon arrival, perhaps because it had already received the ultimate style seal of approval when Kate Moss became an early adopter and toted it around Paris last year. Now Purseblog.com is reporting early mania for Proenza Schouler’s PS11 mini classic metallic hologram bag (even at a not-so-mini $1,895). What was once fashion’s experiment is officially a trend.
“For designers, holography is a new frontier: it presents a new challenge of how to look at fabrics and design,” says Lucy Offen, a fashion student at Central Saint Martins who won the prestigious 2012 Swarovski Scholarship in part for her use of holograms in her collections.
“I’ve mainly been experimenting with digital designs and printing them on to sheer fabrics, then layering them for a double image,” explains Offen. “I’ve also layered transparent prints over fabrics completely printed with glitter, and printed on to reflective textures such as Lurex. I finished off with laser cutting to create a 3D effect.”
Of course, though Offen’s work may be new, her fascination is not. Fashion’s first real foray into holography came when Alexander McQueen wafted a ghostly holographic representation of Kate Moss at the end of his autumn/winter 2006 presentation. Since then, Ralph Lauren has created holographic polo horses that appeared to emerge out of buildings for their 2010 “4D” celebration, while Burberry evened the digital scorecard by holding a holographic runway show in April last year in Beijing.
This is quite a comeback for the humble hologram, whose cool factor was lost on “generation youth” in the 1970s, once governments realised it was an excellent tool for counterfeit prevention. Holograms became a mainstay for credit card and passport fraud protection, while mints used them on paper currency to deter forgery, which is what fascinated designer Mary Katrantzou this season.
“Part of my spring/summer 2013 collection was based on obsolete bank notes,” Katrantzou says. “We tried to mimic their holographic details. It was challenging technically, but it was important for me to push forward not just around the print development but to create our own brocades using holographic yarns. We also printed on Swarovski crystal mesh with a technique used to print on glass.”
“I guess my fascination with holograms started as a kid – I loved optical illusion and ‘magic eye’ books,” says Offen. “Then I was riveted by a holographic portrait of the Queen by Chris Levine: when you looked at her portrait from different angles, her eyes moved. It was very cool.”
Holograms are also particularly online-friendly. According to Vanessa Spence, design manager of ASOS, “Items really have to jump out from computer screens or mobile phones. Holograms are perfect for this. Anything that is textured, iridescent, even oil-slicked, has great visual power.
“We looked far and wide to source fabrics created from the latest techniques. There are new yarns that push all sorts of boundaries: some look like potpourri, others like holographic tapes; others don’t look like traditional yarns at all. We also worked on new techniques in holographic patterns, like foil printing, where garments look more iridescent rather than just metallic.”
If it all sounds a bit extreme, the good news is holograms are easily incorporated into any wardrobe via the small bits: Antipodium has created a sweater where the holographic detail is embedded in the collar and sleeve detail (£149 at Urban Outfitters). Layla has introduced a hologram-effect nail polish, while Westward Leaning has sunglasses with neon rainbow hologram lenses ($165). And if you hurry, you can still get Proenza Schouler’s holographic leather card holder (just £125 at Net-A-Porter).
“We are expecting holograms to be a big fashion story in 2013,” says ASOS’s Spence. “They aren’t going anywhere yet.” Beam us up, Scottie.