Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 27 May 2020

Baftas 2020: Maya Jama makes history in the world's first 5G-powered augmented reality dress

Cutting edge technology stole the show at the British award ceremony

Maya Jama posing for designer Richard Malone in his 5G dress.
Maya Jama posing for designer Richard Malone in his 5G dress.

Radio 1 presenter Maya Jama made red carpet history last night, when she arrived at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards wearing a custom made dress. What made this so remarkable was not the cut however, but the fact that it was powered by 5G augmented reality.

Maya Jama wearing a 5G dress, and what it looked like via the app, on the red carpet at the 73rd BAFTA’s in London.
Maya Jama wearing a 5G dress, and what it looked like via the app, on the red carpet at the 73rd BAFTA’s in London.

Arriving at the 73rd Baftas, Jama wore a sky blue, heavily draped dress. High necked and long sleeved, it was fitted through the waist before spilling out in tight folds from the hips.

Maya Jama posing in the 5G dress designed by Richard Malone.
Maya Jama posing in the 5G dress designed by Richard Malone.

Created by designer Richard Malone, with his trademark architectural silhouette, it was comprised of six layers, and took 250 hours to produce. Hidden inside were 12 full length body wires and 18 sensor bulbs, which were precisely placed to allow interaction with 5G phones. Also concealed were four battery packs carefully hidden under fabric made from recycled ocean waste, recycled wool and wadding from ex-factory waste.

Designer Richard Malone working on the 5G dress worn by Maya Jama.
Designer Richard Malone working on the 5G dress worn by Maya Jama.

As the presenter walked up the stairs of the Royal Albert Hall, she stopped in front of a large screen, showing her outfit off as it transformed into something new. A teal bodice covered the top, while lengths of fabric swirled around Jama to mimic a skirt. Then it stopped and she continued on her way inside.

Why this is such a big deal

Compared to the CGI we are used to witnessing in films, this wasn’t wildly convincing, yet it still marks the first time such technology has been applied to fashion in – and here is the important bit – real time. While we are mostly used to watching green screen effects, these are made in advance and take months to perfect.

This shifting dress, while admittedly crude in comparison, happened in front of our very eyes. That was made by a designer more famous for his dress-as-sculpture approach than for his red carpet looks. It also signals a radical shift in fashion and how it will be consumed. As technology races ahead a new market seems to be opening up for those who want to use tech advances to help reduce their carbon footprints.

Could it be that Malone and his bold idea signals the start of a future where we can all re-wear the same core outfits, endlessly reinvented via augmented reality? Tired of wearing a classic black dress? Switch it to red. Want a suit in azure blue? Done. And all without the need for buying something new.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the 73rd annual British Academy Film Award at the Royal Albert Hall in London. She wore the same McQueen dress she first wore in 2012. EPA  
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the 73rd annual British Academy Film Award at the Royal Albert Hall in London. She wore the same McQueen dress she first wore in 2012. EPA  

Ahead of the event, organisers had requested attendees adhere to a "sustainable" dress code. Kate Middleton re-wore a gold and white Alexander McQueen gown, first worn in 2012, and Best Actor winner Joaquin Phoenix stayed true to his vow to only wear the same Stella McCartney tuxedo. By stepping out in new generation technology, Jama was paving the way to a bright new future of fabulous looks at the touch of a button, and where red carpets will comprise of the same round of gowns, now endlessly rethought via 5G, with the only limitation being the creator's imagination.

Joaquin Phoenix wearing his Stella McCartney tuxedo to the 73rd annual British Academy Film Award at the Royal Albert Hall in London. EPA
Joaquin Phoenix wearing his Stella McCartney tuxedo to the 73rd annual British Academy Film Award at the Royal Albert Hall in London. EPA

At present, the 5G dress Malone created was a bit lumpy and a tad too old school with Granny’s-ruched-curtains to earn a spot on any Best Dressed list. However, the arrival into fashion of such remarkable technology – and the bright and giddy future it promises –make this slight dumpy dress undoubtedly the most dazzling that any red carpet has ever seen.

Updated: February 3, 2020 02:13 PM

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