Art can help us envision a world that we want to live in. Artificial intelligence-generated artwork is increasingly becoming a way to do just that. Though AI is a topic of controversy and concern, there are uses for this form of technology that allows the art community to experiment and grow out of engrained barriers. Nigerian filmmaker and artist Malik Afegbua is using AI to produce images of senior citizens dressed in fashion-forward outfits as they walk the runway. The series is called Fashion Show for Elders, and it features pictures of imagined people dressed in beautiful ensembles that are tailor-made for the catwalk.
Afegbua sees Fashion Show for Elders as a way to satisfy his multiple interests, one of them being clothing. “I'm a lover of fashion, and I always like to experiment,” he explains. “I wanted to mix traditional African Nigerian fashion with something futuristic, something Afro-futuristic.” The characters in the series are clad in outfits that pair prints and patterns in luxurious-looking materials from head to toe.
Fashion Show for Elders has a larger purpose beyond the visual splendor of it all. Afegbua is using it to challenge the often ageist traditions of our society—conventions that want older folks to recede into the background. To Afegbua, they can be the stars. “I've never seen a fashion show for elderly people, but they exist—so why not?”
Although a fashion show featuring and for seniors could actually occur—changes in the modeling industry are already happening—the series uses AI as an aspirational force to get people thinking differently. “What if,” Afegbua posed, “we start doing things in this way?”