Science Meets Fashion In Amy Winters’s Light-Reactive Clothes

Picasso and Mondrian, rendered as techno-glamourpusses.

You know when someone’s fashion line is inspired by “liquid geometrics and light paintings,” it’s going to be good. Or at least fantastically weird.


The autumn/winter 2011 collection of young, London-based fashion designer Amy Winters serves up a big heaping of both, with techno-glam garments like a coat reminiscent of a Mondrian painting that changes colors in response to light and a light-emitting, sound-reactive dress called, wonderfully, the “Picasso Explosion.” On Winters’s catwalk, art and science collide. What results isn’t couture so much as theater. Winters (whose full name, Amy Konstanze Mercedes Rainbow Winters, is itself a form of theater) describes her clothes as “a touch-sense-sound multisensory experience.”

Winters wields tech in the way a couturier wields a needle.

Her trick is to wield technology the way a couturier wields a needle and thread. Much of the line, including the Mondrian coat, is printed in a patented, light-sensitive ink. Sunlight and ultraviolet rays alter the molecular structure of the ink, changing the fabric’s color. Take UV Blue Textile Ink Water, which appears invisible during the day but glows electric blue under a black light at night. But the dazzler here, the head-trippy Picasso dress (slide five), lights up to music thanks to electroluminescent (EL) technology and a sound-reactive sensor. Sound triggers the sensor, zapping EL panels attached to the dress with an electrical current. The current charges phosphor crystals pressed between conductors. Then the crystals radiate light, illuminating a Cubist pattern printed on top. Et voila: a Picasso Explosion. (Though doesn’t it look more like something out of Tron?)

Winters’s clothes are designed explicitly to wow at high-octane affairs: in “music videos, rock concerts, award-ceremonies, advertisements, magazine editorial and red-carpet events,” the press release says. Frankly, though, we’re not sure where this stuff belongs, on the red carpet or in some parallel universe, where Picasso and Mondrian moonlighted as blissed-out Candy Kids.

[Images courtesy of Amy Winters; hat tip to FashioningTech]

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.