Nick Knight, photographer, filmmaker and founder of the groundbreaking fashion website ShowStudio, has finally immersed himself in the metaverse with the release of the ikon-1 NFT collection.
Revealing his collaboration with model and Instagram star Jazzelle Zanotti, better known by her social media alias Uglyworldwide, in an interview with WWD earlier this summer, around 8,000 unique collectible NFTs built to the ERC-721 standard to create non-fungible tokens will be released early. December at ikon-1.com.
Once created, each ikon-1 token will have its own homepage with an expanded NFT view, and this page will act as a ticket to access the virtual ShowStudio and future Knight projects and releases.
The first project after the launch of ikon-1 will be a live virtual fashion shoot that will only be open to NFT holders.
“Zanotti will be wearing some of the NFTs and if you happen to have one of them, I will be photographing and creating images of your NFTs,” he added.
Knight discovered Zanaughtti six years ago via Instagram. He considers them “a modern version of Cindy Sherman, creating all these exciting images for herself.”
“I remember how they shaved off their eyebrows. And at the time they were with a local modeling agency in Chicago who said, “Oh, you shaved off your eyebrows. You will never work again. Now you’re fired from his agency. And in response, Zanotti completely shaved off their hair and moved to New York, ”Knight recalled.
Impressed by Zanotti’s bold look, Knight invited them to work on a shoot for Comme des Garçons. “The clothes are amazing. You need someone who has that otherworldly feel that Rei Kawakubo puts into design,” Knight added.
These ikon-1 designs are the result of the work of over 40 contributors selected by Knight and Zanotti. Some of them specialize in digital fashion creation, such as Tribute Brand, Scarlett Yang, Linxi Zhu and Nusi Quero.
The photographer believes that having these pioneering digital fashion designers on board is the equivalent of “Miuccia Prada, Raf Simons and John Galliano building your wardrobe.”
He learned the hard way that to make an impression in the metaverse, you also need to dress up.
“I was at the virtual opening of the brilliant Russian doll makers, the two sisters who made these incredible dolls. They made a virtual space that was actually incredibly impressive, and I went to visit them in that space. But of course, since I have a physical appearance in the metaverse that I had no control over at all, [and] two sisters come up to me, both dressed in Chanel – one in pink and the other in baby blue – and I look at myself.
“I was given the standard Oculus Rift outfit, I won’t tell you what it was, but it wasn’t very good. I didn’t want to be in front of these two artists that I had a lot of respect for,” Knight said.
Celebrity hairdresser Eugene Sulaiman and manicurist Marian Newman were also involved. For the project, they created 50 sets of hairpieces and 15 sets of nails, respectively.
Once all the digital assets were created, digital artist Tom Vandrag, who is a longtime employee of ShowStudio, had to put the 3D models together and rearrange all the different digital elements to create these unique ikon-1 tokens.
“When we started making combinations, the number quickly reached hundreds of thousands. So we’ve reduced it to 8000. But what’s really interesting is that even though it’s the same avatar in the same pose, the set of images we’ve been able to create is really very diverse, very different and very exciting.
“There is another component to this. I’ve worked on about 500 of them in a collection where I’ve actually worked on a program called ZBrush where you can completely change someone’s physical shape. Even this physicality no longer becomes human, you look at something [that] looks like an abstract painting. It was suddenly not far from a Pierre Soulages painting,” Knight explained.
Knight is familiar with digital fashion. One of his first projects at ShowStudio, a London-based creative platform he founded in 2000, was to 3D scan a model on a virtual catwalk. He has also used similar techniques on projects with megastars like Björk and Lady Gaga and fashion brands like Burberry and Margiela.
He said that the idea of creating the NFT project came at the beginning of the quarantine, when “it became impossible to continue in the same spirit as the fashion industry has been operating for the past arbitrarily many years.
“My goal is to turn ShowStudio into a virtual space where you can interact in a meaningful and interesting way. And this project is the first step towards that,” Knight said.
“When you’re part of a big creative wave, you can’t pinpoint the parameters of that path. Of course, you can look back at pop art, surrealism or impressionism and say that these are the artists. They did it. It’s worth it. It changed that and it’s work.
“But when you are part of something that is moving forward and reinventing yourself as you move forward, it is very difficult to know how far-reaching it is and what it will actually become. I hope that the virtual ShowStudio will be a much more exciting place than what I see now,” he added.
Through the ikon-1 project, Knight said he wants to “set the fashion standard in the metaverse” and claimed that this is the first time an image maker of this stature has created a full-fledged editorial project that makes full use of blockchain and technology. NFT technologies.
He believes these NFTs can be considered “iconic mixed-media editorial art and access tokens to the growing Web3 world that ShowStudio is building publicly through projects like this.”
“Fashion has to change. And, in my opinion, the future of fashion belongs to the digital world. Traditionally, photographers view models as a blank canvas for their ideas; we don’t work like that here. I want Zanotti to be at the very center of creating your own avatar,” Knight said.
“I do not impose a view on Zanotti, but give them a new dimension for existence; with all the splendor, with all the surrealism, with all the poetry and quirkiness. We are creating the first NFT with feelings, emotions and point of view,” he said.
Knight also believes that the decentralized nature of Web3 fits well with ShowStudio’s long tradition of “never accepting advertising because we never wanted people to tell us what we can and can’t do.”
“If this project brings money, it will be great. But that’s not all why we do it. We do this partly because I love creating looks and I’m very passionate about new technologies.
“The Metaverse is an exciting new situation for all of us. This is a new civilization. I think it’s very important for artists and people who work for the love of art to be involved in what ShowStudio has always been, to make money, but in some way to create art and try to do what feels exciting. I think it’s important to enter the metaverse in that spirit of mind,” Knight said.
As for upcoming projects after ikon-1, Knight said he would like to bring tailoring to the metaverse.
“There are so many exciting things that we will be doing in this virtual space. But as amazing as it is, taking your Savile Row tailoring to a metaverse where people don’t really have physical bodies is an interesting concept,” he said.