The Black Eyed Peas Use LEDs & OLEDs
When 80,000 fans thronged the Stade de France in Paris to kick off The Black Eyed Peas’ “The Beginning” tour, attendees were prepared for a rockin’ good time. More unexpected was the brilliant, illuminated costumes worn by the three dynamic personalities on stage. Befitting a performance in the City of Light, the trio upped the visual wattage of their appearance – without actually increasing any wattage at all.
Known for pushing the boundaries of music, fashion, and technology, Fergie, Taboo, and apl.de.ap performed in can’t-look-away-from-it costumes developed in collaboration with Philips and incorporating the lighting firm’s LED and OLED technology. The revolutionary outfits were designed and created by Philips Lighting’s chief design officer, Rogier Van der Heide, and his team in collaboration with B. Åkerlund, the Black Eyed Peas’ lead costume designer/stylist. Combining her visionary styling – as well as expertise across fashion technology, motion video, and electronics – the group developed a radical, groundbreaking design.
The unusual costume idea started when Fergie selected a one-of-a-kind dress designed with Philips lighting technology for the Billboard Music Awards. The resulting fervor of interest spurred the ever-pioneering artists to up the ante by commissioning specially designed outfits with Philips lighting technology that could seamlessly and wirelessly interact with the stage lighting and music beats. Continue Reading
Fergie’s leather catsuit was carefully integrated with 75 OLED panels, which sparkled like mirrored glass when not illuminated. When the lights were activated, the panels were controlled remotely through a software program to orchestrate patterns and lighting sequences to the set-list. The result was a truly innovative and integrated performance of music, lighting, and technology. Continue Reading
In addition to Fergie’s catsuit, the design team developed custom leather costumes for apl.de.ap and Taboo that integrated different lighting elements to reflect their unique personalities and styles. Therefore, apl.de.ap wore a leather LED suit designed to mimic a graphic equalizer as well as integrating the Philippine flag, reflecting his national pride and love of music. Taboo’s unique suit complemented the group’s futuristic style with silicone studs to diffuse the light of nearly 1,000 LEDs moving in patterns across his body and in sync with the rest of his band mates.
“For the Black Eyed Peas, every performance has to be memorable, constantly evolving to the next level to ensure fans get a new experience with every show,” B. Åkerlund explains. “After the Billboard Awards, we went back to Philips because they are not only innovators in lighting, they understand design and we knew we could collaborate and explore the use of light in unique and interesting ways on the tour costumes.”
Van der Heide agrees, “Innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum; it takes collaboration with creative, like-minded individuals who can explore the possibilities from multiple angles and areas of expertise in an organic and authentic way. Working closely with B. Åkerlund and the members of The Black Eyed Peas, we were able to integrate OLED and LED technologies into the set design through fashion to create something truly unique to kick off their 2011 tour.”
He continues, “At Philips, we believe lighting is at the heart of how people enjoy and embrace entertainment, so we use new and original light experiences to really astound our audiences. This collaboration involved fashion technologist Nancy Tilbury and design technologist Benjamin Males, whose creative business specializes in intimate technologies. With them onboard, we were able to bring a new level of creativity and innovation, which we hope will enhance the overall experience of the show.” In addition to the costumes, Philips has also worked closely with members of The Black Eyed Peas production team to provide input, creative direction, and support on the lighting technology utilized in their show. The two forces will continue to look for ways to further collaborate and see what light can do in entertainment.