NEW YORK, United States — Vogue’s long-standing objective is to show what’s new in fashion, but it’s also forging ahead on technology — with a little help from Google.
To celebrate its 125th anniversary September issue, which hit newsstands in mid-August, the publication is launching a 360-degree virtual reality video series in partnership with the tech behemoth and Condé Nast Entertainment. The five-part series, "Supermodel Closets", offers viewers exactly what its title promises: an inside view of the closets of industry stars including Kendall Jenner and Cindy Crawford.
In the age of reality television, getting intimately acquainted with celebrities has taken on an altogether new shape. To that end, the viewer of Supermodel Closets is “alone” in the closet with each model. During Jenner’s tour of two of her closets, she shows off shoes that were a gift from Kanye West and relays the story behind her 21st birthday dress. “We have always been interested in people’s worlds,” explains Vogue.com style editor Edward Barsamian.
While the premise may not be unexpected, the delivery is more so. For Vogue’s editorial team, the partnership is simply a natural progression of delivering new types of content. “[Our audience] looks to Vogue to innovate and show them what’s next,” says Vogue digital director Anna-Lisa Yabsley. In May, Vogue set up a 360-degree video feed of the Met Gala’s red carpet, which she said was hugely successful.
The series builds on the popularity of Vogue’s 73 Questions videos, but the difference, says Julina Tatlock — co-founder of digital entertainment company 30 Ninjas, which produced the series, — is that an interviewer doesn’t prompt the model. She adds that unlike traditional videos, the viewer of these videos has agency, meaning that they can choose how and when to look around the full 360 degrees. It’s also one of the first series using an advanced three-dimensional 360-degree camera called a Yi Halo, which is the latest “jump” camera, meaning it automatically stitches together videos.
“There is an opportunity when you are making 360 and virtual reality to let the story shape itself a little more,” Tatlock said. “The fact that Vogue allowed us to shoot the models for almost two hours, and then we cut it to four minutes, means that Kendall could completely relax.”
While Supermodel Closets can be viewed on a computer or phone via YouTube, the virtual reality elements must be experienced using either a Google Pixel phone in its new Daydream View VR headset or by dropping any smartphone into a Google Cardboard, which is, as the name implies, is a simple cardboard box that transforms a smartphone into a basic VR device.
The partnership is just one element of Google’s complex, wide-reaching fashion strategy, which includes everything from developing wearable technology to partnering with over 180 cultural institutions to digitise their fashion archives. Many of those efforts fall into the VR realm. In December, Google created a behind-the-scenes VR documentary with Rag + Bone and a VR tour of 17 New York retail holiday windows.
Vogue’s September issue also includes a first-of-its-kind integration with Google Home, which Vogue is set to announce when the issue hits stands this week.
“The possibilities are endless — that’s the amazing thing about working in digital,” Barsamian said. “We’re constantly evolving.”