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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 February, 2004, 10:05 GMT
Mobile video opens up the catwalk
By Jo Twist
BBC News Online technology reporter

Tickets for catwalk shows at London Fashion Week are notoriously hard to come by and are reserved for those chic enough to be "in the know".

Models at the FrostFrench catwalk show
FrostFrench's catwalk show was part of London Fashion Week
Ordinary folk - including technology journalists - usually have to wait until pictures of what designers say we should be wearing, appear on TV, online or in print.

But actress Sadie Frost and childhood friend Jemima French have taken a very fashionable and unique stride in the direction of mobile technology at their star-studded show.

Taking their autumn-winter collection out of the closet, FrostFrench teamed up with mobile firm O2 to let the mobile masses with video-playing phones watch the bohemian show live.

"I think it's fantastic that people from around the world can look at our collection," Ms Frost told BBC News Online.

"My mum's in Thailand, and she can right now go and have a look at the collection, so it's exciting."

As it happens

Those behind the technological venture said it was a way of opening up the world of fashion and giving everybody a peek at what happens at a live catwalk show.

Designers Sadie Frost and Jemima French
Sadie Frost and Jemima French think "it's great"
"It is enabling people to see exactly what is going on so that they are not missing out on what is coming up in the latest fashion," explained O2's Nicola Green, armed with a sleek XDA II mobile.

Making video clips available on mobiles has been tried in various ventures, including the Edinburgh Festival where preview clips of shows could be watched on mobiles for free.

But seeing what is going on when it happens, as it happens, is what might hook fashion fans into this kind of use for the technology.

"This is the first time that any network has broadcast live a fashion show in this way," said Ms Green.

"As the models go along the catwalk, we are filming it and sending it back to mobile phones so that people can access it within seven minutes of the first model walking down the catwalk."

View from the top

With the camera positioned at the end of the leaf-strewn catwalk, the footage of every turn and flutter of the models was sent to a satellite.

It was then streamed onto phones via GPRS, which works over standard second generation mobile networks, for people to download onto phones.

Mobile phone showing a catwalk live
The video on the mobile gives a head-on catwalk shot
The video on the phone was played through a Windows Media player and was straightforward to access.

Clips after the event were also made available to download from O2's website.

Using a PDA-type phone with a big colourful screen like the XDA II certainly enhanced what could be seen, and the images were not as jerky and blocky as one might have expected.

"A lot of people have been stunned about how good the quality actually is.

"It's good enough to see exactly what the current trends are and what you should and shouldn't be wearing," said Ms Green.

Seasoned fashionable types might argue that watching it live from a mobile was not quite as good as "being there".

Comparing what could be seen at the show to what could be watched on the mobile, the colours were more muted through the feed than what you would actually see. The thumping catwalk soundtrack was not as clear either.

But it was easy to watch and meant that when the catwalk was obscured by tall people sitting in front, a quick glance down to the mobile would ensure a second chance look.

From catwalk to mobile phone
"It's fantastic that people from around the world can look at our collection"

In pictures: London Fashion Week
15 Feb 04  |  Photo Gallery
Mobile video hits Edinburgh Festival
18 Aug 03  |  Technology
XDA has punch and a friendly interface
18 Nov 03  |  Technology
Virtual dummy to try on clothes
27 Jan 04  |  Technology
Laptop bags go from geek to chic
31 Oct 03  |  Technology

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