The Neiman Marcus Memory Mirror - Neiman Marcus
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The Neiman Marcus Memory Mirror

Regina Campbell

March 4, 2015

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Karl Lagerfeld once said, “Fashion is a language that creates itself in clothes to interpret reality.” An avid linguist, I translate my own reality through stilettos, architectural silhouettes, and pieces with serious drama. That said, I sometimes forget I’m not 5’9″ and willowy. Truth is, I’m height deficient, with proportions more ’50s pin-up than runway wisp, so many of the expressive looks I crave just don’t play to my best features.

When I heard about the Memory Mirror, developed by Palo Alto-based startup MemoMi and unique to Neiman Marcus, I thought I might be due for a reality check. The full-length digital mirror allows shoppers to try on different looks and record them as 8-second videos. With neither of the stores where the mirror was initially installed (Walnut Creek and San Francisco) close to my Dallas home base, I headed to the source: the top-secret Neiman Marcus iLab, where techie inventions and new gadgets are tested and tweaked by resident Enterprise Architect Scott Emmons.

Although a white lab coat hangs ceremoniously behind the door, the mishmash of digital screens, gadgets, and accouterments was unlike any lab I’d seen on TV. Scott demonstrated the mirror process—so easy, even I could do it. Once I’d keyed in my email and chosen a personal PIN—ensuring videos could only be accessed, shared, or deleted by me—I was ready to take my turn. After a slow spin, my video was ready. I pressed play to witness the glaring truth. For better or worse, this is how I look from all angles—no stretching, slimming, or photo-shopping. No more of that “what’s going on back there?” mystery.

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Scott tells me he’s installing a new mirror in Dallas’ Willow Bend NM, and encourages me to try it again for the full, in-store experience. On a slow Thursday, I broke away from my computer and headed to far North Dallas. A sales associate guided me to the mirror, located on the edge of the CUSP department rather than the dressing room area—”for privacy concerns,” she explained. I tried on a blue beaded frock with cutout back, made my way to the mirror, and keyed my PIN onto an adjacent touchscreen. I stepped onto the red carpet (yes, it’s red, just as the fashion gods intended), and followed the directions on the full-length screen: “Look into the green dot on the mirror.” I stared intently, as if dressing down a nemesis or eyeing a cheeseburger. Once the dot looked into my soul, or did whatever it was supposed to do, I received the recording cue, took a leisurely 360-degree turn, and the results were in: Blue might be my color, but the dress was better suited to my statuesque alter ego.

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Tips before you take your twirl: Maximize your screen time with the appropriate underpinnings and shoes. (NM stocks all you’ll need, just ask your sales associate.) And refresh with a swipe of lipstick.
Tips before you take your twirl: Maximize your screen time with the appropriate underpinnings and shoes. (NM stocks all you’ll need, just ask your sales associate.) And refresh with a swipe of lipstick.

Back to the dressing room and into a black Valentino dress with a nipped-in waist and flared skirt. Returning to the mirror, I re-punched in my PIN to create a second video. This one was more to my liking. So was try-on number three, a silk cami, long Tibi vest with a pleated chiffon back, and pair of skinny J Brand jeans.

The split-screen function, which allows you to view looks side by side, was great fun. And surprisingly, I didn’t feel like a zoo animal. Other shoppers did seem curious, and several were eager to try the mirror for themselves. When I returned home, my videos were waiting in my inbox—ready to play, email to friends, or post to Facebook.

To sum up my time of reflection: I may not be enlisted to walk Monsieur Lagerfeld’s next show, but at least I’m confident knowing my exit will be as striking as my entrance. Because after all, the Memory Mirror doesn’t lie. —Stacy Girard

Photography by Thom Jackson

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