Arkish Jewels

Intelligence, Redesigned

By Shivani Dahiya

 

The worlds of high fashion and technology have joined forces. We bring you the mutants.

 

If interbreeding of fashion and technology is currently at a peak, it, by no means, is a new phenomenon. Case in point, Alexander McQueen’s spring/summer 1999, where two robots were programmed to spray paint a white strapless dress or Givenchy’s fall/winter 1999, Y2K collection, where McQueen collaborated with Studio van der Graaf for a glow in the dark plastic suit with flashing LED lights. As the term ‘wearable tech’ takes a life of its own, surpassing its once-upon-a-time trending cousin #seflie, these two disciplines, although on opposite ends of the spectrum, have long been intertwined.

The 2016 Met Gala theme, Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology essentially investigated fashion’s evolution from handstitched garments to its ultimate dependency on machines, alongside 21st century methods like 3D printing and computer-generated patterns.The main spectacles at the exhibit, Yves Saint Laurent’s Mondrian dress, 1965, a completely machine-made creation (except for the hand done hemming) alongside Chanel’s Fall 2014 bridal gown involving hand painting, computer manipulation, machine printing, and hand-embroidery which took merely 450 hours to complete, paved the way for more advanced levels of gadgetry and robotics that one would naturally expect when using the word, technology. Karolina Kurkova kept the dream alive by showing up in an Artificial Intelligence dress by Marchesa powered by IBM at the Met Gala. With 150 LEDs in handmade 3D flowers, the dress lit up with the hashtag #CognitiveDress. Watson’s Tone Analyzer senses the tone of people’s tweets, and picks a colour that best delivers their emotional response. Zac Posen teased his contribution to the gala as well, with a Cinderella-style gown made from fibre optic woven French organza worn by Claire Danes.

Closer home, IBM Watson’s cognitive garment made its Indian debut, courtesy, Falguni and Shane. On their experience, Falguni comments, “We were able to analyse the dominant prints and silhouettes for each season, which we could use as a starting point to explore further. An analysis and insight was shared with us based on all the fashion weeks internationally, as an interactive web application hosted on the IBM Cloud where we could explore the colour trends for the coming season, analyse the key prints and silhouettes for each season and derive inspiration for their new collection”.

“Fashion is usually considered a right brain activity. So, it was very interesting to approach it from a left brain perspective of logic and data. The data presented by IBM Watson helped us look at the insights as a springboard for our thoughts and helped us think in newer directions,” says Shane.

Hussein Chalayan has also, for a while, been looking at the synergies that exist between his garments and the role technology can play. From Autumn Winter 2000, where he transformed a coffee table into a skirt, all the way to spring/ summer 2007, where he teamed up with the animators of Harry Potter to mechanically transform his dresses on the runway. The hourglass Dior New Look reconfigured to the Paco Rabanne metal-link shift, moving decades into fashion history within seconds. His spring/ summer 2016 collection included dresses that were water soluble only to reveal newer garments underneath.

A proverbial example of ‘woman with the machine’ is the Dutch designer, Iris Van Herpen. She was the first designer to have models traipsing down in 3D printed garments, back in 2010. The likes of Karl Lagerfeld, soon followed suit with 3D-printed details on iconic tweed Chanel suits.

Taking a broader view of the interplay between fabric, texture and innovation, Issey Miyake uses computer software to calculate the composition of different cotton and polyester weaves which, when exposed to steam, turn into three-dimensional patterns that are tried as paper prototypes first. The master of draping has come up with an entirely new type of fabric that on contact with steam, contracts into rigid structures called 3D Steam Stretch.

Taking a broader view of the interplay between fabric, texture and innovation, Issey Miyake uses computer software to calculate the composition of different cotton and polyester weaves which, when exposed to steam, turn into three-dimensional patterns that are tried as paper prototypes first. The master of draping has come up with an entirely new type of fabric that on contact with steam, contracts into rigid structures called 3D Steam Stretch.

Wearable computing, however, has found its dream market in sportswear. With the inception of biometric technology, you can turn your shirts or even your socks into smart devices that function as monitors that display your heart rate, performance, fitness, calorie intake, etc. They warn you as well, if your stress levels are too high. With its coevals moving into the digital space, Nike has added to the list of offerings, self-tying shoes, for athletes whose shoes keep coming undone during workouts. To popularise Google Glasses, Diane Von Furstenberg models were lensed donning the eyewear. Exploring this ongoing alliance, tech giant, Google, also joined hands with Levi’s on Project Jacquard to create a denim jacket with conductive threads and a Bluetooth cuff to pair the jacket to a smartphone that allows you to check the time or play your music with just a gentle stroke on your sleeve.

Is the tech industry more reliant on fashion to boost its acceptance or is it the other way round? Or will they ine

 

Beauty Writer

Shivani Dahiya is a Beauty Writer at L'Officiel India. She enjoys sartorial satire and french fries with a tall glass of @dietprada.