Julien Fournié is one of the most avant-garde fashion designers of his generation. A pioneer since 2011 in the integration of haute couture outfits imagined for video game platforms such as PUBG Mobile. A fan of gaming and cinema, he collaborates with Tencent, the Chinese digital giant – no fewer than a billion users worldwide – creating looks for Battle Royale games. The designer is also one of the only creators to have received Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, in his studio and to become one of the ambassadors of the iPad Pro.
Julien Fournié gave an interview to ACUMEN where he confided his point of view on the future of 3D and the metaverse in high fashion and in our society. According to a study by Gartner, one in four people will spend at least one hour a day in the metaverse by 2026.
On January 25, you unveiled your First Love collection in a film that blends realism and virtuality; you also created the outfits for the PUBG Mobile video game: is the creative process in the metaverse the same as in a “normal” collection?
The first time we collaborated with Tencent was for a fantasy happy new year, where I designed specific outfits by creating looks close to reality. PUBG mobile wanted a direct correlation with the real world. We took 2D drawings and turned them into 3D. I’m constantly weaving a link between the virtual and the real, especially for the embroideries that are created to be as close to reality as possible. To design a dress, the drawing is extremely precise: I am a technician. I have to take care of every detail (e.g., knowing exactly the position of a zip) in order to finalize the drawings perfectly, made on the iPad Pro. The drawings are extremely defined in order to allow Tencent to realize the parts in 3D.
I was interested in how video games and cartoons work. I came up with a know-how that allowed me to create an intellectual bridge between the traditions of high fashion and the ultra-innovation that can be found at Tencent, like creating fabrics in virtual. I designed and decided everything from A to Z, just like for a high-fashion collection.
Do you prefer to create outfits for your collections or for the metaverse?
Both are a playground: one is virtual and the other is real. What’s a little different is that for the metaverse, you can give yourself the chance to be even more crazy and insane, for example, by creating helmets with pink feather gloves that you wouldn’t wear in real life.
What’s great is when there’s a real correlation between the pieces designed for the video game and what you wear in real life: you can experiment with a limit, virtually challenging yourself – Does this model really fit me? – before buying the real piece. Tomorrow with Julien Fournié digital, we will build a virtual wardrobe and we will be able to enter any metaverse. Eventually, I’d like to be able to dress at Julien Fournié in virtual, create an avatar, buy it in NFT and then enter any video game.
Is everything possible or are there constraints? If so, which ones?
In video games, female characters are not in line with reality, but through innovative cutting systems,we can tighten the sizes. By implementing the system, Tencent managed to achieve the result I wanted.
How do you see the future of 3D and the metaverse in our society?
I am a fan of the metaverse! When I know that there are people who are extremely lonely, whether in their relationships with others or in their transformation, the metaverse could become a door of opening and freedom for this whole generation that has not had the chance to express itself in the real world and to create a community. These virtual worlds will allow them to emancipate themselves and to be able to test looks that they would not be able to wear in everyday life.
The metaverse could also make it possible to operate. If tomorrow your child is born with a heart defect and the specialist in aorta implantation is in Japan and the specialist in all things alveolar is in Brazil, how do you do it? Tomorrow, we may be able to digitize this heart, ask doctors to wear augmented reality helmets, so that they can see the gestures, improve themselves and train a doctor who is in France. Eventually, we won’t need to bring these two specialists to Paris to save this child.
The transmission of knowledge will also be possible. For example, if we have sensors on the hands of our first workshop manager, Madame Jacqueline, we will be able to follow her gestures and movements when she makes an English seam or a return. So we will have an archive of know-how, and we will be able to transmit this knowledge thanks to 3D.
So, according to the great designer, 3D and the metaverse are more than promising: they would allow us to test ourselves, to learn or to teleport to other dimensions – with style. The designer attests that “you can’t go against innovation, but you have to be able to frame it.”
Flora di Carlo