During the pandemic, the fashion world shifted to new media, with digital fashion shows replacing in-person events. For example, haute couture collections last July were largely presented digitally.  But before this, a handful of Instagram-famous fashion avatars, and the artists behind them, were already moving fashion into the digital sphere.

Chloe Kong  |  Ed Cristina Brooks | 15 March 2021

Digital avatars first emerged in the music industry in 1998 when the English virtual band Gorillaz burst onto the scene. It was not until 2007 when Crypton Future Media launched virtual pop star Hatsune Miku that Digital Avatars were once again a cultural phenomenon. Miku was described by her creators as “a singing synthesiser software that allows any user to generate a singing voice by typing in lyrics over a melody.“ This perfect anime idol swept across the world in all sorts of media ranging from music, illustrations, animations, writing, 3D CGI. Miku has even toured the world singing any range of songs that fans and songwriters can submit to the database, making her an experiment in accessible and democratic pop. 

 

With the rise of social media platforms such as Facebook and instagram, many artists saw a great opportunity to create an alternate persona through digital media. Artists created digital personae that mimiced the behaviour of celebrities with lavish fashion style, blurring the increasingly wobbly parameters of reality with a new generation of digitally rendered avatars. These unique accounts have attracted millions of followers and fans. When social media became more influential, marketers saw a great opportunity for artistic collaborations in which fashion brands appeared to be drawing strength from  the realms of AI and tech. At the forefront of this new collaboration between artists and marketers are a trio of fashion avatars: noonoouri, Miquela Sousa and Ruby Gloom.

Created back in 2016, Miquela is the frontrunner of a new pool of artificial influencers. Her world includes characters such as Perl, Lil Wavi, Miquela’s sometime sidekick Blawko, and his girlfriend Bermuda. While the perpetual 19-year-old has always been known for her keen fashion sense, routinely rendered wearing the latest labels and trends. Her fast-rising popularity saw brands tripping over themselves to court her, where Miuccia Prada enlisted her to take over the Prada Instagram at its AW18 show, before British runway makeup artist Pat McGrath gave her a shout out on her own platform. 

Magazines couldn’t get enough of her, either, with the digital superstar appearing in editorials for V, Interview and Vogue, and covering independent titles including 032c, Wonderland, Highsnobiety, and King Kong. She has also fronted campaigns for brands such as Outdoor Voices and UGG, and collaborated with various streetwear and fashion labels, frequently using these as opportunities to raise money for activist causes such as RAICES, a refugee charity, and Trans Lifeline. Since its launch, Miquela has also been appointed as Dazed Beauty’s very own arts editor, and was named as one of Time’s 25 most influential people on the internet.

Created by art director Joerg Zube in 2018, noonoouri soon captured the American fashion circle with her Bratz doll-like eye. She was styled with an immaculately polished look from the current season’s of luxury brands and their iconic pieces. Such glamorous styles created an unprecedented reaction, as her follower count has risen to 372K and she has been recognised by celebrities, models and designers such as Maria Grazia Chiuri and Kim Kardashian, etc. Noonoouri was invited to collaborate with brands and stylists, as well as feature in different magazines.

Digital Avatar Ruby Gloom unlike noonoouri and Miquela, took a more avant-garde approach. She is often depicted in ravishingly exquisite outfits that feature futuristic machinery and chromatic texture in the technological extension of style. Although she was less popular on social media, Glooms garnered the attention of VICE Magazine, Snapchat, FENDI and musician Grimes. The avatar encompasses an experimental and futuristic grasp of fashion, encompassing both the surreal and real world.

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