THE FANTASTIC WORLD OF SCIENCE FICTION inspired this month’s cover story, from the Blade Runner–esque styling on set to the accompanying essay penned by cyberpunk “noir-prophet” William Gibson, whose seminal novel Neuromancer, originally published in 1984, first imagined a dystopian future ruled by computers, hackers and an alternate reality called “cyberspace.”

Futuristic Fashion 2012
Futuristic Fashion.

Off Duty Style Director Meenal Mistry, who approached Gibson about writing for this issue, first fell for the author as a college student in the ’90s. “He envisioned the prevalence of the Internet many years before it became a crucial part of our lives,” she says. “In the book, he has such vivid descriptions of the new ways people look and dress. There are mimetic fabrics that camouflage into backgrounds, and one protagonist has a mirrored visor linked to cyberspace.” (Gibson’s visors are not unlike Google Glass, the high-tech goggles that turned up on the models in Diane von Furstenberg’s spring 2013 show.)
However impressive Gibson’s futuristic bona fides, not even Mistry could have guessed at his encyclopedic knowledge of fashion history. The author suggests that the tightly curated looks of the cover story represent a canon of ultramodern fashion tropes: very loose clothing and very tight clothing; bilateral asymmetry and rigid architectural silhouettes—attributes that render the futuristic at once familiar and strange.
It was this artful contrast that photographers Claudia Knoepfel and Stefan Indlekofer hoped to capture by setting the exotic clothes in a largely non-descript setting. “We decided to go with a neutral-gray background to avoid competing with the colors, textures, fabrics and shapes of the clothes,” says the husband-and-wife duo. About the “simple, understated shapes” in the background, Knoepfel and Indlekofer add that they serve to “underline the silhouettes and give the atmosphere a different dimension.”
Motivated by the sci-fi mood of the fall 2013 collections, stylist David Vandewal looked to films like The Fifth Element and Prometheus for visual cues. “I wanted to create a fresh, futuristic girl—a mix of Milla Jovovich’s character [in The Fifth Element] and sexy ’90s Versace campaigns,” he says. Other ideas were sourced from far-flung locales, including the wacky metallic headpieces from jewelry designer Katerina Reichova, a native of Prague.
Polish model Kasia Struss’s bedazzled eyebrows, meanwhile, came straight from the runway. Makeup artist Peter Philips, Chanel’s global creative director of makeup, embellished the crystal-embroidered brows he’d used in Chanel’s fall 2012 fashion show (commissioned from the French atelier Lesage) with a fresh coat of spray paint for a matte finish. “For this story, I colored variations of the eyebrows in skin tone to make them look more alien than decorative,” says Philips, adding that “this, in combination with an almost-natural makeup and James Pecis’s hairdos, resulted in a beautiful, believable futuristic look.” Pecis applied pink icing to achieve Struss’s candy-colorful hair, reminiscent of the capital dwellers in this spring’s sci-fi blockbuster The Hunger Games
Even if Gibson’s essay reminds us of the impossibility of living in the future, an innovative mood has swept the fashion world this fall. The future is now. At least until next season.

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