Balenciaga x Yilmaz Sen – CGI Models
Feature by Nyanhial Yang
Balenciaga and visual artist Yilmaz Sen teamed up for the Resort 2019 collection, showcasing the flexibility of computer-generated models (better known as CGI models) in Copenhagen through videos on Balenciaga’s Instagram account. To say that the videos are creepy may be the best way to put it, as the Balenciaga-clad CGI models morph into positions that are anatomically impossible and unnatural for the human body.
Casper & Casper’s own fashion contributor Nyanhial set out to find out more about this fad, or if this sets a new stage for technology in the fashion industry.
Who is Yilmaz Sen?
Sen is a visual artist/designer based in Copenhagen involved in animation, projection mapping, illustration, stage design, music videos and graphic design. He was enlisted by Balenciaga for the Resort 2019 collection and was previously responsible for MTV’s Artist Ident, using the concept of “Mixed Reality” to introduce new bodily configurations of 3D avatars.
When talking about the bizarre contortions of his models in the Balenciaga Instagram videos, Sen told Vogue, “I wanted to create something unpleasant for the viewer.” He definitely got the reaction he wanted with his ‘sinful approach’. The Resort 2019 is clearly a visual vacation from ‘normal’, real fashion with real models.
What does this mean for models and influencers?
In one of the most cut-throat industries in the world, the introduction of computer-generated competition in fashion inevitably changes the playing field. While CGI models only seem to directly affect working models, they also cut out production and casting jobs, slashing employment opportunities behind the scenes. The potential danger of CGI models definitely sparks some debate on the use of technology to replace real-life models in social media and fashion platforms.
Is Balenciaga the first to do it?
Balenciaga are not the first to use CGI models and probably will not be the last. CGI models named Margot, Shudu and Zhi are official members of the ‘Balmain virtual army’ and editorial features in magazines such as Australian Vogue. The first and most popular example is the CGI model Lil Miquela, who posted her first selfie in 2016 on her own Instagram account and has since racked up 1.3 million Instagram followers.
Has the fashion industry embraced it?
Using CGI models certainly fits the interests of the industry to push the boundaries of what is considered normal and real, constantly wanting to be at the cutting edge by utilising available and in-demand technology in the fashion industry. Still, CGI models are like a fad: they have their time and their place in the limelight. They are unreal tools used by creatives who want to go beyond the (im)possibilities of human anatomy, moving beyond real items like paper and pen and cloth. Models are now digitally created instead of just digitally improved.
As far as replacing working models and influencers go, though, it does not seem likely. Real people in the fashion industry are not fads. They still and will always be a necessity. As consumers, we need real humans to relate to, and this will never go out of style.