Here’s a larky product for fashion-forward eco-paranoids and fans of John Travolta alike: a sexy, futuristic dress that doubles as a personal oxygen tank. Because women, designer Hana Marie Newman writes in a press release, shouldn’t “sacrifice beauty for health.”
“8” works by feeding oxygen from a nasal cannula to a lightweight M4 oxygen tank attached to the back of the model’s Gaga-esque leather harness. As Newman tells it, the dress belongs to a new class of haute couture called PAUs, or Personal Air Units:
All successful innovation needs a champion, and PAU has “8” to open up the market for personalized air sources for women. At the core of the project is air. Air breathes life into the design and concept of the dress. The dress and headpiece are blown out of clear acrylic and are delicate protective sanctuaries. The transparency gives the appearance of fragility and the clear, unyielding, bubble surface exposes the wearer, while closing her off. … [T]he individual protects herself from threats, but isn’t forced to isolate herself. She is safely, fashionably and exclusively entering a toxic environment.
Okay, so obviously, the dress is pure satire. By Newman’s admission, 8 is designed as a commentary on people who think they can solve huge, communal problems, like toxic air quality, by turning inward — by creating their own safe little universe, everyone else be damned. It’s no accident that the dress looks like bondage wear: Self-preservation is itself a kind of fetish. It’s just too bad that 8 isn’t a real product. Market demand is perhaps stronger than ever, now that we’re all transforming into canned-food stashing, ammo-stockpiling, luxury bunker-building End Timers. Newman would do well to put this thing into production before the (next) Judgment Day.