The stratospheric growth of the smart textiles fashion industry over the last few years has brought this relatively unknown field into the limelight. Superstars such as Katy Perry’s illuminated gown at the ‘Met Gala’ and Fergie’s LED embedded stage suit at the Super Bowl 2011 are leading the way for the mainstream consumer to follow. The notion of ‘clothing’ and what we wear has changed; we are becoming more interested in our garments and what they represent beyond their traditional usage of protection and adornment.
Above: Katy Perry in CuteCicuit at the Met Gala 2010.
Aided by blogging and twitter, the collaborative use of the internet has spawned a range of exciting new fashion companies all utilising technology in innovative ways. Web-sites dedicated to the smart textiles community such as Talk2myShirt www.talk2myshirt.com, The Creators Project http://thecreatorsproject.com and Fashioning technology www.fashioningtech.com/ provide an environment for ideas to grow and a platform to publicise new prototypes.
Ones to watch in this exciting new field are Diana Eng www.dianaeng.com who creates fashion prototypes using laser cutters, 3-d printers, and electronics and Anouk Wipprecht’s ‘Heartbeat dress’, which records and plays back the sound of the wearers heartbeat www.anoukwipprecht.nl
One company which is now crossing the boundary from concept pieces to mainstream products is Rainbow Winters. The fashion label focuses on interactive clothing which fuses the cutting edge of science with the high-art of fashion. The central theme in her work explores interaction- reaction, response and process.
Above: Rainbow Winters Sound-Reactive 'Thunderstorm' Dress.
Founded by Amy Konstanze Mercedes Rainbow Maychild Winters the Central Saint Martins theatre- design graduate previously worked in collaborative R&D to create new textiles such as holographic leather for the fashion industry. Now recognised by the likes of Channel 4, HSBC, Science Museum London, Science Gallery Dublin and WIRED magazine, she launches two fashion collections a year and is stocked globally in the UK, Hong-Kong and Japan.
Her first ready-to wear collection launched in September 2010 for London Fashion Week, a capsule collection of wearable printed garments which change colour on reaction to sunlight, sound and water. An interactive engagement with clothing is providing a unique selling point for the customer and the feminine design of the garments and branding is presented in a visual language that the fashion industry can understand elevating the technology from gimmick to high-fashion concept.
Above: Spring/Summer 11 Petal Dress: Indoors
Above: Rainbow Winters Spring/Summer Petal Dress. Outdoors the same dress transforms in colour.
The A/W 11 collection which is inspired by liquid geometrics and light paintings is a homage to 20th century modern art. Vibrant jewel hues printed on lustrous fabrics transform in colour outside during the day and glow vivid blue under UV light to take the wearer seamlessly from day-to-night.
Above: Rainbow Winters Autumn/Winter 11 concept piece: Picasso Explosion.
Concept pieces such as the ‘Thunderstorm’ Dress animate in response to sound to create ‘Visual Music’ and are made with holographic leather and sound-reactive, animated electroluminescent panels. The show-piece went on display in the London concept store ‘123 Bethnal Green Road’. The latest showpiece ‘Picasso Explosion’ an explosion of graphic art and sharp sculpture which illuminates to the beat will be on exhibition at the concept store during November 2011.
Check out Rainbow Winters on ‘Chemical Couture’ article on WIRED magazine.
Current Rainbow Winters Stockists
123 Bethnal Green Road Boutique, London www.123bethnalgreenroad.co.uk
The Powder Room, Oxford http://thepowderroomuk.com
Then and Now Shop www.thenandnowshop.com/
Le Charme de Fifi et Fafa, Tokyo, Japan www.lecharmedefifietfafa.com
Zeuz, Hong Kong http://zeuz.com.hk/
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