Play is Always in Style

Play is Always in Style

Vogue Italia and Mattel Creations teamed up with emerging artist Cristal Reza for VogueRama.

Up Close with a Legend

Milan, Italy is the epicenter of fashion. The harbingers of style and taste have called Milan's Quadrilatero home since the 1800s; today, one can browse cathedral-class flagship stores bearing the banners of Versace, Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci, Prada, and so forth.

So, it stands to reason that the most important occasion in this fashion capital is Milan Fashion Week. Imagine hundreds of hotly anticipated events happening every hour, all week, all across the city. Trends are born in a swirl of youthful vitality, extravagance and glamour as 135,000 people flock to witness the moment where creativity meets the catwalk. This is where storied houses and innovative new designers presenting their first collections come together to tantalize and inspire the world.

Mattel Creations is all-in on inspiration by celebrating originality and design. So, we decided to participate in MFW by adding something playful to the spectacle. Step 1: Partner with Vogue Italia, the most important fashion publication in the world. Vogue has a 130-year-history of bringing fashion to a wider audience by elevating the eye and taking the viewer someplace special. And one of the best ways to transport people is by making things fun. Oh yeah...that's another thing we're all about—fun.

Our collective goal was to create an experience worthy of this moment by building a notable installation as part of Vogue Italia's VogueRama. The concept: Invite the public to see things from another point of view and spark imagination. Just like designing a new collection or wearing a new look, we wanted to offer the guests of VogueRama the opportunity to immerse themselves in a colorful, creative bubble.

To set it all in motion, we tapped upcoming artist Cristal Reza to serve up a visual feast using a kaleidoscopic candy store of color, shapes, and patterns created with iconic Mattel toys.

The Cristal Method

Cristal Reza creates 3-D art and motion design using animations rich with color and textures. The Galicia, Spain native's artwork comes alive with creative, playful, and vibrant details you FEEL. Colors and textures evoke liquids, metal, fuzz, food, feathers, flowers and other dazzling surfaces that swing between realism and surrealism. Likewise, Cristal's process is both highly technical (digital 3-D motion work) and also loose. She stays open and allows her passion to lead her to places filled with wonder—just like play.

Cristal was given access to a treasure trove of 3D files from some of Mattel's most recognizable brands: Barbie, Hot Wheels, Skeletor, He-Man, Magic 8 Ball, Rock'em Sock'em Robots, Thomas the Train, Rock-a-Stack, and other toys. Then she began reimagining all of it as a digital diorama.

Motion, Multiplied

The "Rama" part of VogueRama refers to something that must be seen to be fully experienced. So a human-sized, walk-through kaleidoscope that warps wavelengths, frequency, pattern and color to create visual energy that is unique to each viewer was the perfect complement. With 28 animations and 10 different movements and color changes, the unique visual experience is all about constant evolution.

And compounding the challenge: part of creating something new and ambitious means taking some risks and being open to discovery.

"I've never made anything like this before, so the first thing I did was buy kaleidoscopes. I made some test animations using my phone and recording what happens inside the tube," says Cristal. "It seems like a very homemade way to make something with such high technology, but the phone experiment turned out better than any technical test we could have done. We made a massive amount of digital art, manually."

Welcome to the Portal of Play

Cristal's superpower is working with color, but for VogueRama, she pushed her palate to new places. A mix of colors and textures started as recognizable but were blended into something totally new.

"I wanted to bring in a fantasy spin of motion," Cristal explains. "We didn't use the real colors of the toys, but instead created what we could imagine. Oranges are blue, cherries are green, flowers are made of wood, spiraling and blooming into toys."

And for Cristal, a big part of that imagination process was about evoking childhood memories:

"I was inspired by the Hot Wheels animations in adverts I used to watch when I was young; they're so fast and strong. And I love Rock-a-Stack; I'm always looking to make something funny, very colorful but soft. I think they show what a baby would like to see in here."

So....what happened inside the kaleidoscope? Every person's experience was different, and magical.

Ready-to-Wear, Get Ready to Stare

"The result was amazing," says Cristal. "You could go inside it, like following the rabbit down the hole in Alice in Wonderland. Ultimately, I hope people felt like they were inside a game. By surrounding people with a diversity of motion, they could feel lights and colors changing around them. I was trying to create a 'forgot your day for a moment' where you can lose yourself in this toy world and be transported back to childhood."

Using art and design as a portal to revisit that spirit of kid-like joy?

Sounds like fun.

WHEN: Opened to the public on September 23, 2022 WHERE: Salone dei Tessuti, Milan HOW: Visit for more details on this partnership and installation information.