When designer Jackson Wiederhoeft unveiled his debut collection last month, he showed the world the heights his creativity can reach. Mixing pastel taffeta and tulle with gold ostrich feather fringing, bell bottoms, and unitards, Wiederhoeft's "spooky couture" felt like a future-fairytale: transporting fashionable knights and chic princesses of a fabulous but forgotten Camelot into the year 2020 and onto the streets of New York.
Now the designer has teamed up with director PJ Magerko and 3D artist Sindre Johnson to create a series of retro arcade-inspired clips showcasing every look from his new collection, exclusively for PAPER. Each video is set to an 8 Bit Universe video game remix of a song, such as "Bad Guy" by Billie Eillish, or "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler.
"PJ and I met years ago at Parsons and bonded quickly over a similar spooky and colorful aesthetic," Wiederhoeft tells PAPER. "We've been talking for ages about doing something video game themed, as we'd both been obsessed with Neopets and Mario Kart when we were younger and wanted to do something to capture that emotion."
"When the collection started to manifest, we saw an opportunity to marry a video game concept with Jackson's fairytale inspired collection," PJ adds. "We live for the drama and the buffoonery of it all, so it's almost like a parody by mashing up the contemporary 8-bit songs with the looks. It's silly, plain and simple."
"With this project we were able to bring to life each of the ten looks in my debut collection," says Wiederhoeft. "It was the perfect opportunity to collaborate because each look has its own character and personality, which we were able to animate, each with its own song and dance. And we were supported by the incredible choreographers Austin Goodwin and Paul Zivkovich, who have incredible senses of movement."
Below, Wiederhoeft himself walks us through each video, look, and song choice.
Player One: The Fearful Cherub
"Can you help her escape the spider's web? It's a running-down-the-spiral-staircase-carrying-a-candelabra kind of night… Just wait until she finds out that spiders aren't the only thing creeping around this haunted house. She wears a drop waist ruffled dress in purple velvet and lamé, with silver sequin spider embroidery and a peignoir underdress in sunshine-yellow tulle with yellow taffeta ribbons. Her halo is tulle-wrapped wire with sequin embroidery. Choosing 'Black Widow' by Katy Perry was a no brainer! This look has always been about the spiders, so the choice was clear."
Player Two: The Pouty Cherub
"I don't wanna do ballet, I hate this dress! Patience 2/10, attitude problems 10/10. She's definitely just gonna huff and puff and stomp on her mom's feet. She wears a green velvet handkerchief hem dress with sequin pointe shoe embroidery, a hooded underdress in black tulle with lace appliqué and taffeta ribbons, and a halo in tulle-wrapped wire with sequin embroidery. We chose 'Bad Guy' by Billie Eillish because she kind of embodies this fierce pouty girl vibe that is the emotion of this look. And this 8-bit version definitely has that you-just-lost-a-life downbeat feeling."
Player Three: The Joyful Cherub
"Heehee and I oop! Silliness 10/10, strength 3/10, glamour 10/10. Jumping cloud to cloud, watch out for cupid's arrow! She wears an open-back shift dress of yellow silk velvet with cherub embroidery, with a hem of lace appliqué and gold ostrich feather fringe. Underdress in red tulle with red taffeta ribbons and floral trims. Halo in tulle-wrapped wire with sequin embroidery. Frank Lopez composed this one, and it's perfect for the type of video game where you're popping bubbles or catching butterflies. Definitely the game my little sister plays while I zap zombies across the arcade."
Player Four: The Blue Princess
"Bippity boppity boop!! It's buffoonery, love! Ever mixed xanax and prosecco? You can bet she has! She wears a confectionary gown in taffeta, tulle, lace, and ostrich feathers, with fabric rosettes, bullion logo, and sequin embroidery. Ostrich feather hennin headpiece with crystal tiara embroidery. Cherub necklace in sterling silver on a crystal chain. 'Blue Da Ba Dee' by Eiffel 65 is a personal favorite and another no brainer! Blue, her dress. Blue, her hat. Blue, her face from spinning round and round for 20 minutes."
Player Five: The Blue Knight
"Every now and then you'll meet a knight with false eyelashes to rival Miss Piggy's. Wig 10/10, sword skills 4/10, beat 10/10. She wears a blouse in silk taffeta with sequin embroidered tulle overlay and ribbon-laced closure. Corset in blue silk taffeta and cotton coutil. Skirt in blue satin quilted to blue taffeta with sequin and crystal embroidery. We changed up the pace up a bit with 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' by Bonnie Tyler. It's either a fabulous cutscene or an amazing opening credits sequence to a really romantic Zelda-esque video game."
Player Six: The Red Princess
"This is a cut-scene you don't wanna miss! Hard like rock candy, she'll read you for filth, and you can bet she'll get the last word… Axe skills 9/10, cinch 10/10. She wears a structured gown with Snow White sleeves in red silk taffeta with sequin and ruffle embroidery, with accents of silver tulle and novelty jacquard. Snood in sequin embellished lace with bow appliques, and crystal fringe embroidery. This custom song by Frank Lopez is like a loading screen when you have to restart after the Red Princess slays your character. She's not the big boss, but she's definitely one to be reckoned with."
Player Seven: The Red Knight
"Fancy a game of Dungeons & Dragons? You might just get one if you're lucky… Roll the dice and get ur freak on! She wears a waistcoat in quilted red taffeta with sequins and lace embroidery, red marabou trim, and tulle explosions. Corset seamed trousers in antique green jacquards with floral trim, featuring exposed ruffle lining. Hand knitted sweater of metallic yarn in lace shield motif. In love with how the 'rolling the dice' hand gesture totally became something else after 'Get Ur Freak On' by Missy Elliott came out. One of my biggest inspirations for this project was the Dungeons & Dragons computerized board game, and there's something sensual about that black and red board that had the worst sound effects. If the Red Knight was a D&D character option, I'd choose her every time and sing Missy Elliott every time it was her chance to slay."
Player Eight: The Jester
"The bonus level no one was expecting! Predictability 3/10, stamina 10/10, psychosis 10/10, chance of losing her wig, 8/10. She wears a dress in melange of metallic lace, eyelets, sequins, and trims. Embroidered lace tendrils and magenta tulle explosions with fabric rosettes. Knitted elf hat in wool and metallic yarns. Coin logo necklace in rose gold on box chain. When we filmed this video, Allyson, the model, danced herself into a frenzy to tracks like 'Cotton Eye Joe,' 'The Chicken Dance Song' and 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.' It was truly terrifying and incredible to watch. I think 'We Like to Party' by Vengaboys really captures that losing-your-mind emotion that comes with having to play the same level over and over."
Player Nine: The Wizard
"There aren't enough cheat codes that can get y'all past all this. Professor McGonagall herself is quivering… magic 10/10, laser beams 9/10, agility 10/10. She wears a long-sleeved turtleneck leotard in sequin and bugle bead embroidered celadon lace, with silk ribbon bows. Spaghetti strap slip dress in orange lurex chiffon with tulle hips. Tulle wrap dress with ruffled godets of tulle, taffeta, and lamé, with bow, book, and candy embroideries. Amelia Earhart cap in green leather with vintage Bakelite buckle. Before we started, I really couldn't tell what this video was going to feel like, but the wizard turned out to be this fucking creepy warlock that I'm so here for. I always choose the wizard in RPGs and favor magic abilities over strength. And this 'Dark Horse' remix has this amazing, very old-school arcade vibe where you really know it's about to go down. 'So you wanna play with magic?'"
Player Ten: The Dragon
"It's game over, love… this is the final boss even Bowser couldn't clock. Gagging a 10/10, with chance you'll make it out alive, 0/10. She wears a hooded dragon robe in pink sequin and lamé embroidery, with silver marabou trim and degradé pink to white tulle skirt. Leotard and tights in pink stretch tulle with sequin and crystal embroidery, embellished with pink lamé bows. Padded underbust corset in pink lamé. Headpiece in tulle wrapped wire with sequin, crystal & bullion embroidery. This line in Marilyn Manson's 'Beautiful People' track: 'Hate every motherfucker / that's in your way,' is serious dragon vibes. She always closes the show, and she's definitely the final boss who takes you to the Metroid Prime world."
Designer: Alex Wiederhoeft
Director: PJ Magerko
DP: Jordan Millington
Steadicam: Tanner Carlson
AC: DJ Carrol
Makeup: Raisa Flowers
Hair: Sean Bennett
Movement: Austin Goodwin & Paul Zivkovich
Models: Allyson McGough, Umi Akiyoshi, Mary Taylor Hennings, José Lapaz Rodriguez
Logo: Mclayne Ycmat
VFX: Cameron Vokey
8 Bit Graphics: Sindre Johnson
Music: 8 Bit Universe