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  • Kyle MacNeill

Opening fashion up to the public? Genius!

Moncler’s extraordinary Art of Genius event took the trend of interactive fashion spectacles with an open invite to new levels

It’s hardly an exclusive to say that luxury fashion is just that: a private world built on invite-only guestlists, rigid seating plans and press dinners. And while we can often virtually be there; see Helmut Lang hosting his AW98 show on the internet and London Fashion Week going digital for the first time in 2010 before taking it further in 2020, when it comes to real life, those who aren’t part of the industry have rarely been able to join in on the action or experience luxury labels in a physical way.

It’s why Moncler’s Art of Genius event in London last week was a breath of fresh, alpine air, swinging the door open to the label’s extraordinarily creative world. Stitching together sport, music, art, design, entertainment, and culture, it saw Moncler Genius introduce an ensemble cast of collaborators: adidas Originals, Pharrell Williams, Alicia Keys, Palm Angels, Mercedes-Benz, Roc Nation by Jay-Z, Hiroshi Fujiwara's Fragment, and Salehe Bembury.

Spawning a serpentine queue outside the capital's mammoth Olympia venue, it featured huge cubes showcasing each Genius that were as artistic as they were aesthetic. Jay-Z’s Roc Nation introduced ‘The Art of All’, tapping legendary producer Mike Dean to create a community-sourced music project installed in sound pods, adidas Originals showed off its Moncler collection on a conveyor belt, Mercedes-Benz debuted a new ‘PROJECT MONDO G’ art piece, Hiroshi Fujiwara gave everyone an eyeful with a robot peepshow, and Salehe Bembury took guests into the eye of a storm. Perhaps most memorably, Pharrell went full glamping mode with his packable new collection, rambling around a grassy plain dripping in picnic blanket chic.

That’s the art: add a couple of characters, and you’ve got yourself a party. Palm Angels and Boiler Room put on a foam rave, Alicia Keys made us all melt in metallic Moncler and Rick Owens made his bed – a soundproof sleep pod made of steel – and raved in it. This wasn’t just a clinical activation or in-store event; it was an extravaganza that made you part of the experience, an actor, not just a spectator.

Naturally, based on the fact that this was one of the most mega events the capital has seen, the guestlist was insane: Charli XCX, FKA Twigs, Marcus Rashford, Hailey, Justin Bieber, Naomi Campbell, and Flo is a mere sprinkle of the glitterati decorating the venue. What’s really cool, though, is that this wasn’t just a friends and family of the brand affair: ten thousand tickets were given out to the mass of Moncler fans who registered, opening up the experience to all.

It’s part of a new trend of immersive, interactive fashion. From Diesel opening up its SS23 runway to Marine Serre’s recent string of anyone-is-invited shows, high fashion brands are bringing their fans along for the wild ride. Just a quick look at the most recent fashion month calendar reveals a common thread of events, workshops and performances for everyone, including LFW’s City Wide Celebration. There is, after all, a huge appetite to experience fashion in public: the V&A’s two most-visited exhibitions ever were on McQueen and Dior. But what’s special about this new wave of public fashion events is that they are current rather than just retrospective, rooted in the present rather than past.

No one, though, has topped the scale and ambition of ‘Art of Genius’ – thousands of people all under one roof raving about fashion, art, music and sport – hitting the Esc button and entering a totally new world. Taking the immersive trend to new levels, Moncler gave us the maddest Monday night we can (just about) remember, and some equally crazy excuses, we imagine, for being late to work the next morning.


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