art and light
A Poet of Haute Couture
During a dinner with friends, Franck Sorbier met Laurent Vernat, Marketing Manager at Intel, who was looking for artists seeking to develop projects related to advanced technologies in the context of “The Creators Project” program. They hit it off so well that, a few months later, the fashion planet was stunned by a runway show that was incredibly “incandescent”, to say the least! Using the magic of 3D mapping, 17 luminous dresses sprung out of the darkness on the Antoine Theatre catwalk, attracting a deluge of media coverage. Franck Sorbier had just achieved a master stroke by combining the worlds of fashion and technology. Above and beyond the event itself, the fashion parade was also an opportunity to explore new artistic territories. Conversation.
Franck Sorbier, did you already have a particular affinity for new technologies prior to meeting Laurent Vernat?
Franck Sorbier: They have always intrigued me, and I had my first taste of them during my winter 2008-2009 collection. My model designs – a tribute to exceptional women during the last century such as Mother Theresa and Dolores Ibarruri – were brought to life amid a virtual décor, and journalists were invited to discover my collection via a CD in which my avatar made an appointment with them. This original approach was the first step into the world of high technologies. Since then, I have remained fascinated by their innovative ability, and by 3D mapping in particular which allows images to be projected and to simulate ultra-realistic effects. But when I met Laurent (Vernat), I hadn’t yet identified which direction to explore. Our exchanges enabled me to grasp the immense potential of this process that I wanted to transpose into the world of a Perrault tale, and Peau d’Âne (Donkey Skin) in particular. Except that my heroine doesn’t order her dress from the king’s weavers. Egged on by a wicked godmother, she types her wildest dreams on a keyboard and sees them light up on her dress in 3D.
Laurent Vernat: To achieve this challenge, we had to combine the two worlds of fashion and technology that are completely the opposite of each other. My teams really had to get inside Franck’s head to be able to express his creative desires!
MW: This runway show was a UFO…
FS: Outside of all codes, outside of all norms! I created two dresses: the godmother’s which was black and delicate; and that of the princess, which was white and voluptuous – ready to be transformed by the magic of the 17 pictures projected.
But could this dress actually be worn outside of the show?
FS: When the show took place, the idea was still pure science fiction. The process above all enabled the creation of unbelievable costumes and stage décor that were extremely practical for taking on tour. But since then, technology has caught up with dreams and today a woman could indeed step out in her luminous dress…
LV: Franck Sorbier’s iconoclastic approach rocked every code of haute couture and incited us to undertake new research. We now develop IT systems the size of buttons capable of driving images. Only the 1 kg battery remains problematic, but we are working on recovering other types of energy, such as body heat, in order to find new solutions.
Are you exploring other areas connected to fashion?
LV: Yes! We can equip clothes with sensors that measure heartbeats and brain waves, for example, and express these emotions through colors and light! And it is possible to order the color of your dress with a simple click on a smartphone…
It is thus up to artists to dream up tales to tell. That’s the whole point of our partnerships.
FS: All of this is very exciting because today, fashion has to break free from the stranglehold of vintage that confines itself to constantly revisiting the classics, and to highlight its differences with luxury prêt à porter. It has to find new avenues,
and reinvent itself… Taking this to extremes, we might even find ourselves one day buying a “high tech” dress to hang in our lounge like a kind of artwork!
Is light still a source of inspiration for you?
LV: Yes, in a totally different form, it was the guiding principle for my “Renaissance” collection, which was made of upholstery fabrics. I wanted the light to shine out from the clothes with their shimmering, silky preciousness, in contrast with the gloom of the Middle Ages, clothed in homespun and wool.
Franck Sorbier, you attract light yourself, in the form of artists such as Johnny Hallyday and Mylène Farmer…
FS : I love dressing artists who put on a show by setting a stage for their characters. I also dream of creating a light outfit for Polnareff, in case he’s listening! And I am immensely close to Sh’ym who was the godmother of my “light” collection and who was brave enough to wear my strapless gown molded in transparent polyester, which stirred a great deal of interest at the 2012 NRJ Music Awards. I also love the actress who personifies light in its absolute simplicity – that queen of metamorphosis with her radiant smile, subtle approach and luminous humanity: Meryl Streep.
Based on an interview by Michèle Wouters.
Bruno Le Page, Marketing & Communication Director, Maison Franck Sorbier