Pick a player, choose a path

Luis De Javier, Joel Palmer and Yuma Burgess imagine alternate worlds in this virtual reality shoot.

Words by Helen Neven

Who needs IRL anymore? Designer Luis De Javier and creative director Joel Palmer teamed up with digital sculptor Yuma Burgess to conceptualise and produce a virtually rendered shoot, imagining alternate spaces to inhabit in times of lockdown.

In the myth of Orpheus, the Greek musician marries Eurydice who is shortly after killed by a snakebite. Orpheus ventures to the underworld in an attempt to bring Eurydice back to life. Hades, kind of the underworld, allows Orpheus to take her back to the land of light, on the condition that he not look back during his journey. The couple make their way back up to the land of the living. Orpheus, glimpsing the Sun, turns back to see if Eurydice follows and, in that moment, loses her for ever.

The story is a tragic one, but Orpheus’ journey could teach us something positive for our own. 2020 has now been indelibly marked by retreat: retreat from the outdoors, retreat from each other, retreat into our own minds. To compare lockdown to the land of Hades may be a little extreme, yet reality as we long knew it was certainly taken from us and replaced by stillness, emptiness in once busy streets, calls for solitude, smaller spaces to exist in and larger spaces between us. We journeyed into a different world that looked the same but felt radically different. With less time outdoors and more time in our minds, we have looked into ourselves in ways that we never knew we could – or ever would – and have wonder what waits on the other side. Have we lost or have we gained? Does a different reality await when we surface?

Exploring the notions of realities, physicality, distance, and dystopia, Burgess, Palmer and De Javier produced a shoot to emblematise this period: a retreat into the isolated realm of the digital with De Javier’s signature leather pieces from his AW20 collection rendered virtually as armour for a new breed of Tekken character ready for a journey. Industrial underworld surroundings built by Burgess image an alternate reality, an escape into the mind, a trip into the unknown, an opening up of the matrix. As we start to spot the sunlight, Palmer in De Javier’s leather becomes a new M/Orpheus offering us a couple of paths for our journey ahead: we can keep glancing back, drag our past selves to the fore, or else we can imagine new realities, learn from the introspection of this retreat and move our world forward. Unlike Orpheus, let’s leave the past to rest and not look back. Let’s red pill it. Together we will surface, together we rise and re-invent a world anew. Pick your player, choose your path: there is a new world just ahead of us.


Creative Direction and Styling: Joel Palmer

Fashion: Luis de Javier

Digital Artist: Yuma Burgess

Photography: Jacob Sztor

Models: @body_by_kenn @_boyheart_ @luisdejavier