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Engage yourself with Coperni fashion puzzles and games

Published: August 14, 2020

“Are fashion shows necessary? Are designer collections just too expensive? Does Instagram success convert into real-life success?” These are questions my editor Nicole Phelps posed in her fall 2019 Coperni review, in response to Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant’s forward-thinking new approach for the label. Rather than host a show two Februarys ago, they shared the new collection on an Instagram account, @copernize_your_life, a Choose Your Own Adventure–style digital experience. It was both futuristic and grounded in reality, featuring members of Coperni’s team (alongside actual models Hanne Gaby Odiele and Teddy Quinlivan) in “situations their customers might actually encounter,” like running after a train or swiping through a dating app. The idea was that the project would connect more intimately with real-life customers than, say, an elevated catwalk in a Paris theater.

Vaillant and Meyer were ahead of their time, to say the least. Eighteen months later, the industry is scrambling to figure out virtual, experience-based fashion “shows” in light of a pandemic and its subsequent restrictions. Ironically, Coperni did stage a runway show for fall 2020 in March, and on a call from the South of France, Vaillant says they’re planning another for September. “It’s important to see the garments moving,” he said, adding that the show will take place outdoors, weather permitting.

That doesn’t mean they’re abandoning their digital experiments, however. Starting now and through the end of summer, Coperni will release new Instagram “games” every day, including puzzles, crosswords, and dress-up sequences with models. None require complicated filters or downloading a second app; instead, Vaillant, Meyer, and French video director Alexandre Silberstein found clever ways to design around Instagram’s most basic functions: tapping, swiping, and bookmarking images. In one game, a Coperni Wi-Fi bag bounces around an Instagram Story frame, and the challenge is to press and pause the video right as the bag settles onto the model’s arm. Another series of Instagram Stories begins with a model taking a selfie in front of a mirror, and as you tap, she gets dressed in more and more clothes and accessories, ending with sunglasses and a Swipe bag. Vaillant also described a puzzle you’ll assemble in your library of “saved” or bookmarked images; every few days, a piece of the puzzle will be added to Coperni’s feed, and if you save them in the correct order, the pieces will line up and the mystery image will appear. Vaillant said it all reminded him of the summer homework we received as kids, or the puzzles and creative games we would do at camp, hence the project’s name, Coperni Summer Camp.

This was ostensibly a more ambitious endeavor than those youthful activities, with some 50 images, videos, and games in total. Getting it all done wasn’t easy after being in confinement (and designing a resort 2021 capsule on the side). But Vaillant and Meyer feel it’s more important than ever to maintain a connection with their community. “The idea was to play with Instagram’s codes and give power to the user, because we love digital and we love Instagram, but we don’t love it when people are passive and just swipe through because they’re bored,” Vaillant says. “We want to engage with our community, have fun, and maybe give them some gifts if they win the games. We are so grateful to the people who spend time on our page because they’re part of our story.”

The monthlong reveal should give other designers plenty of time to study what a successful digital experience looks like. Vaillant and Meyer make it look easy because it’s consistent with their voice and Coperni’s modern, yet cheerful design language; it’s when a video feels forced or melodramatic that you lose interest and resume your aimless scroll. That Vaillant and Meyer are planning an IRL show for September also answers the industry’s physical-or-digital dilemma: If a physical show is, in fact, better for your label, it shouldn’t be an excuse not to embrace digital projects in the “off-seasons.” A soulless feed of branded campaign shots and runway looks no longer feels sufficient; it takes a lot more to get your followers to pause and participate the way Coperni’s do.

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