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Jun 01, 2023

“You’re now Balenciaga, Harry”: AI fake collabs are driving us crazy

Harry Potter (or name any cult movies or tv series you may like) by Balenciaga fake collab is now available, not in stores, but on YouTube. A sort of generative AI lucid fashion dream is taking over the Internet in the form of costume design fanfiction, spreading through Twitch and TikTok and overflowing through YouTube and Meta channels.


If you Google a tv show or blockbuster movie next to the words Gucci and/or Balenciaga, the teaser of a non-existent spin-off of Game of Thrones, The Office, Lord of the Rings, or Matrix will appear with the characters dressed in the brands’ iconic styles.

To fully understand the AI-generated fashion design trend mimicking the style of “Gucciaga” we need to go back to April 2021, when Gucci and Balenciaga teamed up for real: it was basically Gucci’s then-creative director Alessandro Michele who ‘hacked’ his own style into the signature codes of Demna, who still heads Balenciaga’s fashion (and vice versa, with Demna having worked on Michele’s iconic pieces), making a dream come true for fans of both brands. But nerdy diehard fans needed more – even more than the collaboration between The Simpsons and Balenciaga. So, they decided to make it happen by doing it themselves through generative AI tools.


AI-generated costumes for cult tv shows – what’s not to love?

Fake featurettes for pretend tv series are reaching millions of views. It’s all AI-generated content that appears blatantly fake, but we still love it. People love it. It’s mostly because a crowd of famous doppelgangers are “cast”, generated by Midjourney or Dall-E artificial intelligence, then animated with Reallusion or D-ID or with one of the dozens of AI tools for animating faces and making them talk.

In Matrix (not) by Gucci, Neo is wearing Gucci glasses despite them hurting his eyes, whilst Morpheus discourages him from wearing Balenciaga (never mind about the cold opening; the plot is still intriguing).


In Lord of the Rings (not) by Balenciaga, Gandalf declares, “You are Balenciaga, Frodo” to a very believable replica of Elijah Wood, staring intensely at the camera (blinking too often is still an annoying glitch of the system, giving away too quickly it’s made with AI). “One does not simply walk into a Balenciaga fashion show,” says Aragorn (or is it Boromir? Can’t tell, the faces are too mixed up). 

An impressive Orlando Bloom double is sporting long brown hair instead of platinum blonde because of a very common “hallucination” of the neural net that needs to be prompted with the actor’s name instead of the character’s because it is much more precise in creating facial features. In this case, if you feed it with “Legolas”, it will try to represent something made with Lego bricks.


“The cold has never bothered me, anyway,” says AI-generated Elsa from Frozen in a fake Balenciaga catwalk, along with Toy Story characters and Super Mario. While Hermione Granger and the Harry Potter gang sometimes prefer Balenciaga, sometimes Gucci. We look forward to watching a movie called Hogwarts of Gucci (a brilliant nod to House of Gucci!)



What does AI think about it?  

We asked ChatGPT about the topic, and it says that “incorporating generative AI tools in costume design for TV shows can be a valuable resource for inspiration, time efficiency, and cost reduction. However, it’s important to strike a balance between AI-generated suggestions and the expertise of human designers while considering cultural context and the limitations of AI technology.” Thanks, GPT, we agree.


Try this at home (it seems to be safe enough) 

Is it fan fiction? Is it a parody? Is it derivative art? Nobody knows for sure. Midjourney and most text-to-image generative AI tools work on stimuli that run in a neural net fed by humans: if you train the machine to learn about Giorgio Armani’s style, the pattern of Chanel’s signature tweed, or the shape of a Hermès Birkin bag, the device can cleverly come up with solid representations and imaginative variations of the originals.

There are some implications to consider before attempting to do the same, though. For now, there are no clear legal terms or copyright guidelines around AI-generated content, so the author could actually be sued for plagiarism by brands. However, it is very unlikely to happen to a fashion student using AI for academic experimentation or research (so doing it just for fun, not for commercial purposes).

Plus, we suspect fashion brands have no interest in censoring creative UGC (user-generated content) that can go viral, created just for fun and not for commercial purposes.

Ready to experiment? You can follow a step-by-step tutorial online. Have fun!



Gaia Giordani
Generative AI explorer and New Media Communication expert