Fashion has always been a popular topic in Second Life. Since the beginning, fashion has given residents of SL a form of self expression and unique personal style. From runway models and fashion designers to residents who love to shop, Fashion is still a big part of the virtual world culture and definitely here to stay. One resident spends her time supporting the artistic side of fashion and imagery with The Edge.
Interview with Eles (Eleseren Brianna)
Our individual style defines us visually in the real world as well as Second Life. Can you tell our readers what style means to you and what inspired you to be involved in the fashion side of Second Life?
Eles: What an interesting question. Style for me is a combination of expressing my individuality in an aesthetic way. It is also about feeling good about being me because I feel confident attractive and empowered in the clothes I am wearing. It is not necessarily about wearing the latest 'fashions', though that might happen. It is about making a statement creatively that expresses who I am and what I want to say about myself through what I wear. When we slavishly follow fashion trends we are not really saying anything about who we are as individuals, we are more likely wanting to fit in and be with the in-crowd. By all means wear the latest fashion if it really gels with who you are and what you love about clothes or accessories. I got involved in Fashion in SL originally as a designer, following my real life experience of training and working as a Designer Dressmaker some years ago (which is where my creative interest in Fashion started). I am also trained artistically in RL (as an illustrator) so Sl for me is a mode of artistic expression. That came out in my designing, but took off completely when as a model I discovered Styling in SL.
What is The Edge?
Eles: The opportunity to create The Edge was a huge gift given to me by John Herring (Johannes1977) the powerhouse behind Windlight. When I came to the end of my year as MVW 2015 I had been looking for a way to follow my muse in exploring the edge where Fashion and Art meet, and where Fashion explores the artistic. The Edge was conceived as a way to support, promote and provide education on the most artistic elements of SL Fashion and modeling and bring them more widely to the public in SL. I hope we also have a role in influencing SL Fashion to be more creative and exploratory too.
The Edge has definitely evolved to have a mission of promoting original creativity within SL Fashion and Modeling in various ways, but especially it focuses on my love of Styling. Styling in SL doesn't really have too much of a RL counterpart (unless you perhaps look at the personal style of a few pop stars and the like). It is for me a true and valid form of creative expression using fashion as a medium, whether that is then displayed on a runway, or through imagery (which are both forms of creative expression in themselves of course).
Not only is it a gallery, there is an emphasis on education as well. What can you share with our readers about that?
Eles: The Edge currently does cover the Gallery where artistic Fashion Imagery is celebrated and promoted, and the Edge Section of the Windlight Magazine where we cover topics that cover creativity in Fashion in various ways. I am proud though to have launched the educational side to the Edge through my Styling Bootcamp course (and there will be other educational events in time).
As I mentioned before, the Edge does have as one key mission, the promotion of Styling in SL. I remember when I was first learning to be a model, that Styling was something a little feared, a little mysterious even. Some Models were lauded as great Stylists but training never really seemed to grasp adequately how you could learn to become a really good Stylist yourself. How to style in certain genres was taught, and were definitely useful to a point, but truly how to *think* as a Stylist, for me at least, was lacking. I cannot speak for all the trainings out there or for what others have got from them, this is a personal viewpoint. I am a fairly analytical person and I developed my own ideas and techniques as I progressed as a model and a Stylist.
The Edge Styling Bootcamp course is a culmination of what I learned for myself, and is intended to show how to really think as a Stylist, which is a powerful foundation and facilitator to any Styling you do. Using the in-depth techniques and knowledge I give on my course should mean that you can tackle any aspect of Styling successfully, even when thrown in the deep end with a genre you don't know, or when you are asked to style totally creatively. I can honestly say that the Bootcamp course is the most sophisticated Styling training ever offered in SL, with original concepts and tuition, and it has to be, to be worthy of the purpose of The Edge.
Fashion and trends change often with pop culture. Do you offer styling courses for those interested in redefining their personal style?
Eles: The Edge Styling Bootcamp is not specifically for redefining or making over someone's style, but the tools and techniques it teaches do unlock more ability to style creatively and imaginatively, with more understanding of how to put stylings together. This means anyone who does the course will have the tools to experiment and explore and that would lead to greater self expression in their personal style. What the course does emphasise also is the benefits of gaining a knowledge of rl fashion trends, collections and designers. These are a source of inspiration as well as knowledge about what is happening with Fashion trends.
Fashion is not only for the purpose of looking good but it can also be artistic. Can you explain the line between everyday fashion seen in Second Life and artistic fashion for runway and Fashion enthusiasts?
Eles: I think this is probably similar in some ways to the difference between extreme Haute Couture and runway designs in real life, and the clothes people buy in stores, which basically boils down to practical wearability. This isn't always the case of course, this being Second Life, but I would say that artistic fashion for runway and enthusiasts is more extreme, and 'out there' stylistically. It makes a stronger statement and its not so much about the person who is wearing the design, as about the design itself being the centre of attention, and creating its own identity and its own message artistically.
What ways do you like to Support Fashion and Fashion Imagery in Second Life?
Eles: The Edge, together with Windlight, aims to support Fashion in as many ways as we can. We have a mission to altruistically support the Arts in SL, including the Fashion Arts. For Designers Windlight offers free participation in its events, plus we have had some very notable fashion shows which we have hired Agencies to do (thereby helping to support Agencies too). The Edge Gallery offers an opportunity for anyone who makes fashion related imagery to show in well publicised regular Open Exhibitions. We also feature the work of our talented group of Edge Stylists in the Edge section of Windlight Magazine. The Edge section also features articles related to many aspects of Fashion, modeling and Styling. We run our Edge Styling Bootcamp course as I have already mentioned. To this we have added free E-Books, so far one on posing and one featuring our wonderful Edge Stylists (who have been chosen for their talent in both styling and imagery). We have future plans for the Edge yet to be revealed too.
Fashion Imagery can also be seen as art. Can you explain the difference between images you may see in a fashion magazine and the type of Fashion Imagery you support?
Eles: I think this is a hard question to answer, as images in Fashion magazines vary in their creativity, and there is some truly excellent imagery appearing at times in Fashion Magazines. The Fashion imagery that the Edge supports is imagery where yes Fashion is a focus in some way, but the image itself works as an art image. It is about the image being considered as a whole in an aesthetic and coherent way as a work of art. It is conceived and shot in this way when it is created. All of the artists we feature in the Edge Gallery have different styles but they all produce images that stand by themselves as pieces of artwork. I see a lot of images which feature fashion but there is no real aesthetic relationship between the figure wearing the fashion and the rest of the image, be it background, props, whatever. Those images would never make it into the Edge Gallery. I cover this in the final session of my Styling Bootcamp course, when we look at what elements should be considered in an artistic image, so I won't go into all the details here!
Where do you see fashion headed in Second Life and what do you thing designers will come up with next?
Eles: Again this is a hard question to answer as Fashion is so broad in SL and serves a lot of different communities, all with their own preferred styles. I am personally interested in high fashion in SL so will keep my answer to that. I see more and more designers starting to produce their own mesh, and designers getting more and more proficient in making their own mesh. This for me is leading to the beginnings of a creative renaissance in SL fashion as mesh designs are diversifying and getting more beautifully and imaginatively rendered. I am encouraged too that this burgeoning ability is meaning
that designers can make more and more original designs, perhaps inspired by RL trends but not slavishly following them.
I think also there is a trend now within SL Fashion and modeling to explore Art in various ways, and I like to think that Windlight and The Edge have played their part in it. Art and Fashion is not something that can be territorially claimed by anyone, the two have gone hand in hand down through the ages, and will continue to influence each other in the future.
I have also heard one or two designers saying they are getting interested in looking at Avant Garde designs again, and that would be something I am excited to see.
Is there any fashion advice you have for our readers or anything else you would like to share about The Edge?
Eles: I am not going to tell anyone what to wear, but I will say this. Do not be afraid to be yourself, and wear clothes that you personally feel good in. Don't feel like you have to follow the crowd, some fashions do not suit everybody. I am particularly fond of a quote by Orson Welles 'Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn'. I would say though dress in the best quality items you can afford because they will make you look much more polished, whatever you wear.
As regards the Edge, we have some very interesting projects to be announced, so keep a watch for announcements. The Edge will continue to walk its own path and support the Fashion Arts in SL, something i am very excited about.
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Preferred Contact: Eleseren Brianna