What happens when you showcase the insanely creative, tech-infused genius of makers in the world-renowned fashion mecca of Paris? We’re not sure yet, but we suspect it will be delightfully unexpected. This weekend, fashion makers will have a strong and stunning presence at the third annual Maker Faire Paris, thanks to a collaboration with the French fashion and textile training institute HubMode and Calgary-based wearable tech experts MakeFashion.
While there were fashion makers participating in Maker Faire Paris last year, what’s new this year is a sizable space dedicated solely to showcasing these inspiring designs. There will be at least 10 exhibits of fashion makers, with MakeFashion organizing a make-athon all weekend long, the results of which will be shown on Sunday afternoon on the catwalk. The stylist for the fashion show is renowned French hair dresser Sébastien Le Corroller.
Maker Faire Paris lead organizer Bertier Luyt shares, “Fashion has always been on the forefront of innovation, creativity, and technology — in workshops, styles, and graphic environments (like commercials, catwalks, displays). What is new today is all the maker technology and creativity that can be applied to fashion. Seeing MakeFashion at Maker Faire Bay Area 2015 was an inspiration to us. The show was so great and interesting that we thought Paris, the world capital of fashion, should step forward as a window into maker-made fashion.”
Luyt adds, “Maker-made fashion in France is just blooming. Fashion is considered a serious thing here, and it takes a lot of discussion to make fashion professionals admit they are makers and that makers can do fashion too. We have seen, in the past, a sewing workshop collide with a fab lab electronics workshop, and they both showed their work at Maker Faire Paris 2015. French fine arts artisans and engineers are world-famous, and Paris is the world’s capital for fashion. We want to bring more of the top skills to Maker Faire to extend the impact of the Maker Movement in France.”
When the groundwork was being laid for Maker Faire Paris, both MakeFashion and HubMode reached out to express interest in lending their expertise in helping shape the fashion presence at the Faire. Needless to say, the show organizers were thrilled. HubMode organizes the annual Fashion Tech Days event in Roubaix, France, and they bring their extensive local network to the mix. With deep roots in DIY, MakeFashion was founded in 2012 to explore and celebrate the intersection of fashion and technology by introducing high-end designers to tech tools through a series of hands-on workshops. Since then, the collective has produced over 30 mind-bending garments and showcased them at more than 20 shows around the world.
We spoke with MakeFashion cofounder and chief technologist Shannon Hoover to gain further insight.
What is it about the intersection of fashion and technology that inspired you to cofound MakeFashion?
I knew wearable technology was going to be the next big thing in computing, so I wanted to develop a community around that. Hosting a fashion show seemed like a great event to celebrate the creations of an up-and-coming community.
How has your organization grown?
In the beginning we had 11 teams and probably about 20 people total involved in producing the show; this year we had over 120! It’s amazing how much growth there has been with this event over the years.
You’re responsible for bringing the first Maker Faire to Calgary in 2012. What motivated you?
We saw our first Maker Faire when we went to Bay Area in 2010; it seemed like every corner we went around, we saw something that we didn’t even know was possible! On top of that, people would show you how to do what they did. It was an explosion of knowledge and inspiration that repeated itself every few minutes! It was a truly transformative experience for us, and when we got back to Calgary, we knew we needed something like that in our city. After a couple of false starts, we formed a team and made it happen.
What was the first MakeFashion presence at a Maker Faire? How was it received?
Aside from our own Maker Faire, we showed at Shenzhen, Bay Area, and Rome in 2014. We received so much positive feedback, which of course led us to hosting full shows the following year in both Shenzhen and Bay Area.
MakeFashion had a notable presence at Maker Faire Bay Area last year. Tell us about the exhibits and shows your team put together.
Last year we put on a show with 15 pieces. Bay Area is a pretty special event, so we tried to bring as much variety as possible, to show the real “maker cred” of our designers! These included a carbon-fiber samurai outfit, some fashion prosthetics, a fiber-optic wedding dress, and a dress that displays social media messages on it. The reactions were amazing! It seemed as word of mouth spread, our shows got busier and busier throughout the event, and on Sunday, the room was packed.
Give us a preview of what MakeFashion has in store for Maker Faire Paris this year.
We will be showcasing two teams in Paris: one is a mother/daughter piece that uses proximity detection to sense how far they are from each other, and the pieces change as they get closer together. The other designer will use clever integration of 3D printing, fabric, and lighting to express elegance and happiness in beautiful gowns.
Does the fact that the show is in Paris affect it in any way?
Certainly, our designers range from high fashion to performance and costume pieces, and we like to encourage diversity, but we will definitely be bringing more of the fashion pieces to Paris!
How are the fashion Maker booths being curated?
We have a lot of content now — four years’ worth of shows and just this year we had 38 pieces on our runway, so we try to balance what we bring to the shows between bringing pieces that we think will fit the local culture and those that will represent a variety of makers.
Fashion is just the tip of the creative iceberg that will be on display this weekend at Maker Faire Paris, April 30 and May 1. Head to the website to get all the details on makers, workshops, and presentations!