At the Selfridges department store in London, shoppers are invited to step into a dimly lit soundproof booth, to place a blue polygonal cap on their head, and to hold on to a pair of nearby rails. Because the world as they know it is about to go bye bye.
This is Monolith, a virtual reality experience created by fashion designer Gareth Pugh (who has dressed everyone from Lady Gaga to the performers at the Royal Opera House) and interactive designers at Inition to promote Pugh’s new menswear line at the store. VR may seem like a strange way to promote fashion, but it’s part of Selfridges’s larger campaign, the Festival of Imagination, which is meant to celebrate the intersection of meditation and creativity.
Monolith embodies that intersection by providing a quiet, isolated environment that can transport you to another place. You see, Pugh’s polygonal cap doesn’t just look like an artifact of the digital world, it’s a portal to it. Inside the geometric blue foam, an Oculus Rift VR headset resides, which fills your periphery with an animated monochromatic cityscape, decorated with stark, undulating walls and bright white, endless horizons.
Unbounded by the rules of the analog world, Monolith is like a trip through Tron. And in that sense, it’s the perfect pairing for Pugh’s own fashion sense–an approach many would label the New Aesthetic, which renders traditionally digital forms–like polygons–in cloth and plastic.
Monolith is, in essence, a peek into Pugh’s own psyche.