Student designer Mary Huang from the Design|Media Arts department at UCLA shows a unique way to integrate light into clothing radiating a mystical, sensual aura around the wearer of the dress.
Her LED dress is a combination of woven cotton jersey and hand-crocheted flowers.
About two dozen bright white LEDs are embedded in the dress and are powered by batteries or wall socket via adapter.
A unique twist of Mary’s design: when not being worn, the dress doubles as a lamp, avoiding the fate of hanging neglected in a closet. That’s why she added the wall socket power supply to a dress.
The idea to give clothing an additional function while not worn is amazing and shows how wearable electronic triggers new perspectives on how future fashion can be used as interactive objects.
Mary Huang explains: ‘In an effort to take a fresh spin on lighted clothing, I have created an illuminated scarf and dress using crocheted knit to diffuse light from LEDs to give a more organic effect.‘
Her ‘rhyme & reason‘ collection is small but a start in exploring the use of light as a material to create ‘transformative’ fashion. Reflecting on the change from day to night, inconspicuous white knitwear is enlivened by illumination, creating a sense of magic and mystery for the wearer.
I got the opportunity for a short interview with Mary Huang sharing her insights on wearable electronics’ future direction:
What is your motivation to combine technology and fashion?
Being a intrigued by both fashion and technology, when I came across the work in electronic fashion, I seemed like a natural avenue for me. I was really amazed by the work done by Hussein Chalayan and Phillips, although the direct inspiration for my pieces came when I saw how designer lamps use materials to diffuse light in unique ways.
As a fashion designer, do you think wearable technologies allow a higher degree on design flexibility?
The appeal of integrating technology in fashion is being able to push the limits of imagination. However, integrating technology into a wearable piece can often be cumbersome, so in a successful piece, the design must outshine the technology. The ability to add lights, sensors, motors, speakers, and other devices into clothing allows us to do things ordinary cloth can’t do, but we can also do things with ordinary cloth that we can’t do with electronics.
What do you as fashion designer think wearable technologies should provide?
I think the question of integration is relative to the design. Idealistically, technology and fashion would have a symbiotic relationship, and the design would reflect a complete and seamless integration. Yet, this is better suited for couture and high-level fashions more than, say, sportswear, where removable modules make for ease of washing and repair. As there are many levels of fashion, there is a market for both.
How do you see the future of wearable electronic / interactive fashion in general and specific in fashion design?
I would hope that the electronics sector will start developing more electronic components: LEDs, batteries, wiring, sensors, etc. that are specially suited toward application to wearables. This would be crucial to the continual development of electronic fashion, as most people designing things now are relying mostly on home-brewed hackery.
I think the crucial part in the electronic fashion market that is missing right now is a high-class ready-to-wear segment. We see a lot of gadget-based sportswear (ipod jackets and such) and a number of conceptual pieces that are really not wearable out in the real world. In fashion terms, what exists now is like L.L.Bean versus Jean Paul Gaultier without the in between market of brands like Guess or DKNY.
I find Angel Chang’s efforts to make tech fashion a retail reality really interesting. (And the paper she wrote on it makes a lot of good points). Admittedly, I am not helping this situation much in the pieces I have made, but the technology I have used is incredibly simple and so the pieces could be manufactured if the opportunity came.
Thank you for your time and for sharing your interesting views about the Wearable Electronic / Haute Tech world.
Light has a very emotional effect on humans. In the hands or correctly in the dress of Mary Huang, light becomes sensual. We are looking forward to see her next creations.