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Dresses Breathe And Glow In Response To Environment [Videos]

The Musée National des Beaux-arts du Québec opens a solo exhibit on the fashion designer-cum-techie artiste Ying Gao.

Dresses Breathe And Glow In Response To Environment [Videos]

To an ordinary person, clothing that “interacts” with the environment sounds like a euphemism for spilling ketchup all over your pants. But fashion designer Ying Gao is no ordinary person. What she calls interactive clothes are in fact tech-rigged wearable sculptures that rustle, breathe, and glow in response to changes in their surroundings. In her hands, fashion literally comes to life.

Last month, the Musée National des Beaux-arts du Québec opened Ying Gao: Art, Fashion and Technology, a solo exhibit that shows off the best of Gao’s intelligent couture. That includes Walking City 2, a pleated dress that puffs in and out like a lung when visitors breathe into a microphone nearby. (The garment was inspired by Archigram, the vaunted ’60s-era architecture collective that made inflatable dwellings a form of avant-garde art.)


Here’s Living Pod, a frilly leather and organza confection that’s equipped with light-reactive sensors. When triggered, the sensors activate motors, forcing the fabric to slowly expand and contract:

Our favorite, Playtime (a reference to Jacques Tati’s bestest-ever film of the same name), features two dresses that respond to flashing cameras. One shimmies and appears like a big blur, while the other emits its own burst of light. Both make it exceedingly difficult for photogs to snap a decent picture, which is precisely the point. It’s a clever middle finger to the cultishness of fashion shows, where, as the museum points out, “photography is king.”

The exhibit runs through Aug. 28. More videos here.

[Images courtesy of Musée National des Beaux-arts du Québec; hat tip to MocoLoco]

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.



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