There’s a fine line between creative expression and mass appeal, and it’s a balance that fashion designers have been trying to strike since the dawn of runway shows. Difficult though it may be, there is a formula and it calls for equal parts whimsy and wearability. What Nada Shepherd did last night with her seven-minute-long, 3D movie presentation of her fall-winter 2010 NADA collection was deliver a lot of flashy visuals with little regard for fashion.

I must give credit where credit is due: it is the first time a designer has ever created a 3D movie presentation of a season’s collection; although Burberry came close with a 3D stream of their live runway show from London last month. It was visually enthralling. Future Fashion/Fashion Future, as the movie is called, pitted two “fembot” women against each other in a Mortal Combat situation as a showcase for NADA’s warrior-inspired fashions.

Much like a video game, the “user” (i.e. audience member) was taken through a virtual setup process of choosing a face, an outfit, a weapon and a background, and then thrust into a gladiator-type setting where our avatar combated an enemy to the point of pixilated annihilation. The actresses, both dressed in the season’s offerings, were well choreographed and convincing. And yes, the overall effect was titillating. (I have not yet begun to regard this technology with the same blasé attitude that techie film buffs have.)

But I couldn’t make out any of the clothes, which sort of made it a fashion fail. And it begged the question: which came first, the movie or the designs?

In the Q&A that followed, Shepherd explained her decision to eschew a traditional runway show: “I think we’re going to see a return to fashion shows the way they used to be, smaller and more intimate. Runway shows have become too much of a spectacle, and now that’s changing. It will be done in a different manner — as a video, a 2D or 3D movie. It’ll reach a world audience that way.”

I would argue, firstly, that the internet is doing its part to bring fashion to the world rather effectively; and secondly, Future Fashion/Fashion Future is a spectacle of the most gimmicky nature.

The point of a runway show is to see a collection not only in the flesh, as it were, but also organized and styled in a way that conveys what the designer is trying to say. It’s a story in 40 looks or less. Unfortunately, the story I got last night told of a future with little fashion.

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