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Fashion | Spring 2003

Digital Design for the Digital Age

Karim Rashid and Pia Myrvold's Cybercouture line shuns nostalgia, gives clothes a futuristic kick

September 25, 2002|BOOTH MOORE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEW YORK--In an age of instant messaging and virtual reality, many fashion designers are still living in the past. Between Marc Jacobs' 1950s coats, Diane von Furstenberg's Sandra Dee dance skirts and Zac Posen's 1940s pinup dresses, few shows here this week did anything to break fashion's nostalgic spell.

But on Saturday, Karim Rashid, the product designer known for his "Oh" chair and his ego, collaborated with Norwegian-born artist Pia Myrvold to show a small collection called Cybercouture, featuring some of the week's more forward-looking clothes.

Presented at the Felissimo Design House, the line included polyester Lycra mini-dresses in techno-inspired geometric patterns designed and printed digitally; white denim skirts with zipper pockets for cell phones and jackets with pouches on the back for MP3 players; neon pink polyester Lycra skirts and sexy cropped tops with reflective silver seams; and easy-fitting black jackets covered with Rashid's signature cross, circle and blob icons. Like the customizable shoes on the Nike iD site, nikeid.nike.com, some pieces can be made-to-measure with custom-print options at www.cybercouture.com.

"Style should speak about the day in which we live," Rashid said earlier in the week at his Chelsea studio. "But instead of using the Digital Age for creating originality, it's only being used in fashion as a tool of efficiency."

Myrvold, who started out as a painter in Norway, has been designing clothing for more than 10 years while also working in other mediums, including the Internet, video, music and architecture. When she had her first fashion show in Paris in 1992, her line was picked up by Charivari, a now-defunct New York boutique known for stocking conceptual designers such as Martin Margiela and Helmut Lang in the 1980s and '90s. Other shows followed, but she felt her work was never understood, especially in Europe.

"I had problems with journalists," she said. "I wanted to drive fashion into the next revolution, and I was sitting in an environment occupied with nostalgia."

When Myrvold was invited to show in New York in February 2001, Rashid was in the audience. "I liked her point of entry into fashion from the perspective of an artist," said the designer, who had his own clothing line in Canada, the Babel Fashion Collection, from 1985 to 1991. Rashid's role in Cybercouture was limited to creating prints, but he is looking to launch a clothing line; Myrvold is hoping to find other collaborators in the future.

Saturday's show didn't draw any high-profile fashion magazine editors, just friends, family and a handful of curious reporters. Cathy Klima, an advertising executive tagging along with freelance editor friend Sue Mutz, found the collection "futuristic but not over the edge."

"It looks like something they'd wear in L.A.," Mutz said. "At the Mondrian."

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