Ice Ice Baby Spice: 3D fashion gets a meme-worthy makeover
Two years ago, No Agency New York co-founder Alex Tsebelis started exploring 3D video design as a way of presenting show packages to casting directors. Taking endless photos of models to get different angles seemed like a missed opportunity, when they could just produce a 3D scan and spin it in all directions. But his first attempts failed. “I was envisioning a perfect 3D scan, which is why I was disappointed the first time,” he explains. Then he met digital artist Ice Ice Baby Spice, also known as Agusta Yr. “Agusta’s work helped me see that you have to accept the limitations of the technology and make something that embraces that instead of trying to be perfect. As we’ve gone forward, I don’t really care if it’s 100% accurate or if casting directors can use it to cast people. We’re trying to make things that are unique and interesting.”
For AW20, Agusta produced a 3D show package for No Agency New York, exclusively using looks from the 1 Granary Showroom. We asked her to explain the process, from 12-year-old YouTube tutors to late-night editing sessions.
Who is Ice Ice Baby Spice?
That’s a big question. I’m a creative director, 3D artist, personality and model. I did a science project in the fourth grade about ice and salt, which I called ‘Ice Ice Baby’. I also really like Baby Spice – I would wear pigtails every day when I was younger. The mash-up of those two things came to me when I was really high about five years ago and I thought it was amazing.
What role does Instagram play in your life and work?
It plays a big part in getting jobs. It helps to be someone online, so people can see who you are. I try to keep it as close as possible to who I am in person. I don’t think about it too much. It’s just a place where I can experiment with my work and try new things.
If you could change one thing about Instagram what would it be?
I would bring back the chronological feed! This new algorithm is horrible. I get reported a lot for posting memes. I recently posted a Tweet about a guy cheating and someone reported it to Instagram, saying I need mental health help. If I post something in my underwear, it will get deleted. It’s just annoying. Every time it happens, I do a post saying, ‘If you reported this, please just unfollow me. You don’t have to follow me. If I offend you, just scroll past it or look away.’
What led you to digital fashion and video content?
I’ve always been interested in video. My aunt and uncle are both in the industry, so I’ve been around fashion photographers my whole life. I started studying photography, but I got really bored, so I ventured into video and found things that were more challenging for me. When I found 3D, it was a heaven-send, because every new project is so challenging.
I took one class on digital fashion in school, but I’ve learnt everything else on my own. I did some courses on the YouTube Creator Academy and watched tutorials by 12-year-olds. I guess technology is easier for them because they’ve had it their entire lives.
Could you describe your creative process for digitising fashion?
I like doing 3D scanning, because you still get the model’s personality. I have a small scanner which is portable and very easy to use. It’s mostly post-production, so the in-person activity is really quick. The models stand there for a minute or two and I walk around them. Then I take the scans into a few different programmes to work on the materials and clean them up. I use a gaming engine to edit. The graphics in games are so amazing that it would be stupid not to utilise that technology. That said, I’m not a gamer. I play Super Mario Bros but that’s about it!
How long does the editing process take?
It depends on the deadline. I can finish things really quickly if I don’t sleep for a few days. Ideally, I would have at least a week. The project I did for Yang Li for SS20 included 38 models, 80 3D models, both a lookbook and an animation scan. That was a three-week ordeal, but ideally it would have been spread over two months. I slept for maybe two hours a night during that time.
How does what you do differ from traditional filmmaking? In terms of your process, but also how it is received and what it offers as a means of communication.
I always say it’s still photography-based, because the scanner takes pictures to form the 3D model. I like to create a fantasy, dreamlike world with a greenscreen and it would come to life in the editing process. I don’t think it differs too much in 3D. Even when I make the videos, I’m using a camera within the 3D world I make and it has the same settings as a normal camera. I’m just moving the camera digitally instead of holding it physically.
Within digital, you have endless opportunities to keep creating. I’ve gotten to a point where I know when something needs to be finished and when I need to stop working on it. If I could, I would work on every project forever, tweaking it and making it perfect.
You grew up between Iceland and Miami and you studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York. How have each of those settings and cultures shaped your approach to art and fashion?
I definitely connected a lot with Miami and felt very welcome there. When I moved to Iceland for middle school, it was rough as fuck. People were quite cold towards me, so it was a weird time. Then I came back to America to study in New York and I felt like myself again, which helped me express myself. I guess I felt stifled in Iceland. Realising where I feel comfortable mentally has helped me make better work.
How has your work been received differently in different geographies?
Iceland is so small and the older people don’t get it, but the younger people there see it the same as anywhere else. With the internet, we reach such a broader audience that it doesn’t matter where you’re posting from. I’ll still reach people in New York and Miami now I live in London.
Why did you move to London?
I finished studying and worked for a production agency for a year. I knew I wanted to leave, because I wasn’t happy in New York. My parents lived in London and I wasn’t going to move to Iceland, so London was the best option.
You’ve modelled for SAVAGE x Fenty and Sinéad O’Dwyer, among others. How has modelling and working with No Agency helped you develop?
Modelling has helped a lot. My goal was never to be a model, but it helps to get my name out there and get booked for jobs. People are more aware of who I am, so working with No Agency has definitely helped me get more video jobs. It just opened up new doors for me, because I meet so many people on set. The agency has been so helpful with everything.
You’ve produced the AW20 show package for No Agency New York. Do you think it helped that you know the models already?
Definitely. 3D scanning is not a normal modelling job for people. They’re not aware of how it will look or turn out and they can feel nervous. But all the models were really comfortable with me because we work together, and the stylist was a friend as well.
You used clothes from the 1 Granary Showroom. How does the fashion chosen interact with 3D scanning?
The clothes were very fitting for what we wanted to do. The original idea was a Renaissance vibe with a modern, 3D spin. I think they worked really well for that. A lot of them change people’s silhouettes, which comes across really well in 3D. Sinéad O’Dwyer and Linus Leonardsson, for exmaple. Others were chosen for the playful fabrics. The sheen on the orange dress by Constance Blackaller came to life in the 3D scan and Erika Maish’s eyeball sequin dress also had a special quality in 3D. They scanned amazingly, because they were so dynamic.