i-D, the British fashion magazine, has a new website, and it looks nothing like what you’d expect. Acquired by media giant Vice late last year, the brand’s new digital look has been anxiously anticipated. At the launch party, emerging British fashion designers Claire Barrow, Ashley Williams, and Rylan Lo sent their creations down a runway with a soundtrack by Chris Keating of the band Yeasayer, coming together in a video-adorned, choreographed fashion show with music that transcended the typical runway stomp.
Maybe the most dizzying feature of all was the holographic glass box that encased the models, surrounding them with three-dimensional holograms like a diorama. The animations projected on the glass walls were the product of a close collaboration between Good Company co-founder and producer Jonathan Lia and directors Radical Friend (Kirby McClure + Julia Grigorian), as well as animators working in NYC and Germany. Despite how quintessentially postmodern it seems to have this high-tech, global workforce, the display actually used an old vaudeville trick called “Pepper’s Ghost,” in which a projection is reflected through a special piece of glass to create an illusion of a hologram on the stage. The rear and side walls of the cube were projected separately to create the sense of immersion. The projections were all triggered live, and there was a lot on the line: “Aside from all of the technical challenges, time was likely our biggest challenge,” Lia told PSFK. The final result, by virtue of the projection technology, was also “a literally upside-down and backwards version of it that [h]e’d never before seen.”
In contrast with that tightrope act at the launch party, the website has a clean, simple design – all the better to show off i-D’s big, beautiful photos and videos – and it doesn’t attempt to compete with the print magazine, instead addressing the realities of the new-media landscape. An upcoming feature called “24 hours in…” will allow readers to share from their day-to-day personal lives, and “My i-D” will allow users to tailor their web experience according to their likes and dislikes. “The rise in Tumblr and fashion blogs has proved how many creative minds there are out there,” editor Holly Shackleton explained. “People are no longer just consumers, they’re creators too and i-D.co encourages that.”
She also hopes that video will bring a new storytelling medium to the site’s designers, photographers, stylists and writers. Arrows allow you to jump from one article to another as easily as you flip through a magazine, and the provocative headlines grab your attention without overwhelming the actual articles that follow them up. Text scrolls independently of image displays, allowing you to freely juxtapose a photo of a person with their words. (and create funny comparisons, if you want). The website is expertly balanced between horizontal and vertical elements, at times featuring as many moving parts as the holographic cube itself. Even the ads, that ever-necessary ingredient for online monetization, take their place among the building blocks.
Many features are still in the works, including a section called “Listen,” which will turn the fashionable crowd on to emerging music. This website’s future is bright, and will provide a beacon to even those who reside outside the UK and have never seen the magazine before. Like Lia’s cube display, it is collaborative, scalable and the product of young synergies happening in real time. Check out more scenes from the party below:
Images: Laura June Kirsch