For creating boundary-busting, futuristic fashion—and then extending that vision into new projects
How’s this for a corporate mission statement? "To engulf the world in the most fantastical spectacle, incorporating all elements of theatricality with a love for colliding technology with live performance." It’s a pretty high bar. Yet over the last eight years, Jack Irving Studio has delivered on that ridiculously audacious vision with a candy-colored parade of inflatable sea urchins, wearable Venus flytraps and outfits for alien showgirls.
Leading the troupe is Jack Irving, disruptor in chief at the eponymously named design studio he founded after graduating from London’s famed Central Saint Martins art school. Now he’s sharing his creations with the metaverse: In January, Irving dropped his first nonfungible token (NFT) collection, three otherworldly looks he later presented in physical form at London Fashion Week. The visionary designer and his collaborators showed off the collection in a music video featuring Maie, a fully digital pop star and influencer. (Yes, you read that right.)
“It’s a place where we are building an entirely new society, where the value provided to the growing metaverse community is true, transparent and secure ownership of high-value digital assets and opportunities,” Irving told FashionUnited.
To borrow from Lady Gaga (who has worn Irving’s designs), you could say Irving was "born this way." From the time he was a little boy, in Blackpool, U.K., a seaside resort town on the coast of the Irish Sea famous for its massive annual lights show, he was drawn to the flash and pageantry of the theater. At age 5, he asked for a smoke machine to "put on shows." By 14, he’d designed his first set for a local theater.
It was after graduating in 2014 that Irving caught the eye of Gaga, who wore his inflatable "sea urchin showgirl" garment on the closing night of the Paris ArtRave festival. Since then, Irving’s designs have popped up on a bevy of celebs, including Paloma Faith, Little Boots, Paris Hilton and the Spice Girls.
Along with the NFT drop, Irving has been extending his reach with a few other design projects. He collaborated with hipster hotelier W London to create a one-of-a-kind "techorative" pillow for guest rooms, for example. The spiked object appears muted to the naked eye until it’s brought to life through the click of a camera flash—and the smart fabric transforms into an iridescent instantly Instagramable masterwork.
Irving admits such creativity can wreak havoc on the project schedule—and on the specs for materials. "The word ‘impossible’ landed in our inbox a few times," Irving told Hotel Designs. "We did receive a lot of kickback at this stage from manufacturers." He also admitted he was terrified of how the project sponsor would respond to such a futuristic statement.
Fear not. All went to plan, and Irving moved onto yet another collaboration, partnering earlier this year with Rubyoung to create a one-of-a-kind speaker featuring his signature thorn-like designs. The product made an appearance at Irving’s first-ever solo show at London Fashion Week, the Quixotic Collection, which featured slick catsuits, mechanicalized mylar tentacles, and an array of other fantastical silhouettes and surprises—including those real-life versions of his NFTs.
It’s a place where we are building an entirely new society, where the value provided to the growing metaverse community is true, transparent and secure ownership of high-value digital assets and opportunities.