With fashion houses and their bright spark designers searching further and wider than ever for inspiration, it’s little surprise when they suddenly look skywards - threading some of the magic and mystery of celestial exploration into their catwalk creations.
At Ermenegildo Zegna Couture, creative director Stefano Pilati’s mission has been unfolding along a somewhat more pragmatic route, that was until his autumn/winter 2014 men’s collection walked out this January backdropped by a monumental video experience of virtual space travel. Today Harrods unveils a 23-window 'takeover' of their London storefront with Zegna's film taking pride of place.
Despite the aesthetical leaps and bounds of fashion film in the past decade, Pilati’s commission takes the genre to another level. He worked with renowned scientist Dr Fiorella Terenzi, an astronomy professor at Florida International University, who both crafted the soundtrack and plotted the film’s precise, earthbound astral journey with the help of the Hayden Planetarium’s Professor Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Their arresting visuals send viewers spinning through space. The journey starts with an abstraction of cloudy nebulae shooting through the Earth’s solar system, before zooming at breakneck speed down towards Earth, then Europe, and finally into Italy’s boot-shaped terrain to arrive within Zegna’s fall show venue, the Milan CityLife Palace.
Whilst visually stunning in its own right, it may well be Terenzi’s sonic accompaniment that takes the cake here – a soundscape she created by layering Tchaikovsky with ‘acoustic astronomy’ - an element of her research that she explains 'turns radiation from space into an acoustic signature reflecting the chemical, physical and dynamic properties of the celestial object in question'.
'The natural, raw sounds of radio waves from space wash over our planet constantly,' explains Terenzi, whose appreciation for fashion and the arts spurred this unlikely pairing forward. 'I am both an astrophysicist who is moved by an artistic sensibility, and an artist who relies upon technology to express myself,' she continued. 'I want these discoveries to swim in our imaginations, to open our hearts to new ways of thinking and feeling about daily life, whether it be music, fashion, aromas, or even food. If we promote the collaborative mind, bridging astrophysics and aesthetics, we can both objectively learn about the universe and commune with it.'