Nintendo has sold more than 13 million copies of Animal Crossing: New Horizons since its release on March 20. The avatar-style game allows players to create their own worlds and communities—but just as important, players can also design their own outfits. This is why it’s interesting: Unlike other video games where only specific customizations can be made, Animal Crossing allows users to essentially design a garment from scratch, creating the exact hem length, flounce, or pattern on the outfit their avatar wears. Unsurprisingly, the game has quickly been adopted by the fashion community, with dozens of Instagram accounts sprouting up to showcase runway-inspired designs from Dior, Sports Banger, and Louis Vuitton, while brands like Valentino, Anna Sui, and Sandy Liang create custom garments for the game.
Reference Ffestival, a Berlin-based fashion organization, is taking Animal Crossing’s fashion potential one step further with a virtual fashion show of Animal Crossing avatars dressed up in current season looks inspired by Loewe, Prada, and GmbH. The show was conceived by photographer Kara Chung, who runs the Instagram account @animalcrossingfashionarchive, and stylist Marc Goehring of 032C. “We met through a mutual friend, curator Evan Garza, who had contacted the both of us for an Animal Crossing piece on Art Forum. We connected on a call right after, and thought it’d be a fun way to collaborate!” Chung and Goehring tell Vogue.
The final show takes the form of a three-minute video, and like a prestigious IRL fashion event, it’s soundtracked by Michel Gaubert. “This is the first all digital fashion show I have worked on, and I approached it the same way I would approach a physical show, which is instinctively,” Gaubert says. “The difference here is that the show is actually a video clip of an incredibly popular video game—and I aimed for a playful, free-spirited fashion moment; fun and games.” Set to music by Joon, the Animal Crossing figures hit the runway in Craig Green, Paco Rabanne, and Chanel looks while an audience of foxes, cats, and a hot pink Birdo-esque creature look on from the front row. “I hope it will reach a lot of people from every horizon, and especially people who may only have a vague idea of what a fashion show actually is like,” Gaubert continues. “It was important for me that the music remain as accessible as the game, the show had to have a fun and enchanting spirit as it is a bit of a sweet little parody—just like Animal Crossing itself is an imitation of life which connects a lot of people these days, for the same reasons.”
All-in-all, the final video is not that different from a real fashion show. Although, who’s to say what’s real nowadays? As Goehring describes it, putting together the event was quite similar to prepping a physical fashion show or shoot. “To be honest, [we prepared] very much like a normal pull in the first stage when working on a shoot: I went through my favorite collections of the season and picked the looks,” he says. Of course , as in any fashion editorial, there were a few wrinkles. Now, instead of working with PRs to determine which looks would be available for a shoot date, Goehring worked with Chung to select looks that would translate well to the aesthetic of the video game. “You have to really think about which specifics you can delete from a look and what you pixelate, so that in the end it remains this one specific look which everybody knows—and it’s recognizable!” he continues.