It was such a pleasure working with Diana Eng and Emily Albinski of Black Box Nation for the MAKE Fashion Technology Show at the Maker Faire. For myself, it was an opportunity for an inside glimpse into the emerging new world of fashion technology. When Diana and I spoke about the idea of the show back in Jan, she talked about how she and Emily wanted to create a dialog for non-technical people to understand technology. I believe they did achieve it. Most of the models at the show were in their teens and throughout rehearsals I could hear the girls talk with each other or the hairstylists/makeup artists about the technology and science of their outfits. To me that was inspiring to see already how their work is just beginning to make a difference.
Of course no fashion show is complete without behind the scenes panic which happened here fifteen minutes before start time. But unlike regular fashion shows, we had a tech emergency. Emily needed a soldering iron to fix the finale piece, the Inflatable Dress, and she needed right away. I paged Arwen and Phil on their walkie talkies immediately. Both respond and I saw Phil running over to me with the goods. In no time, Emily soldered the dress (with Bruna still in it) as we all watched and prayed it would work. It did. PHEW! We breathed a sigh of relief and began to shuffle out to start the show.
I’ve put up my photos from rehearsals, backstage, as well pics from the show itself from our talented photographer, James Duncan Davidson. I’ve also included below the full description of the outfits from the show and what kind of technology each of them represents. Visit their new site, Black Box Nation, and you can also get yourself one of their cool jewelry pieces. You’ll also be able to read more about Diana Eng and her work from my interview with her in the new issue of CRAFT coming out this fall.
MAKE Fashion Technology Show – Outfits
Biomimetic Clothing (models: Diana Georgie, Felicia Tsang, Sheila Georgie):
A collection of outfits that convert from one look to another based on principles from TRIZ (the Russian theory of inventive problem solving), biomimetics, and deployable structures. The collection, at first glance, seems to be a series of monotone greys, but each outfit converts to reveal richly colored, digitally printed fabrics and different silhouettes.
Functional Jewelry (models: Ashley Jennings, Davina Tong):
Customizable jewelry that can be connected in different configurations to create various designs. The jewelry is made up of different modules that snap together. Each module contains an electronic component (resistors, LEDs, batteries, potentiometers, etc.) which connect to build functioning circuits. Not only are the wearers creating their own jewelry designs, but they are also building working circuits.
Mathematical Knits (models: scarf- Katie Zakula, jacket-Nicole Watt):
Mathematical Knits uses number patterns to dictate how their decorative structures are knit (using holding and lace techniques). The scarf uses a combination of odd number sequences. The fringe of the jacket is knitusing the Fibonacci sequence which naturally produces a ruffle.
PCB Radio (model: Erica Curry):
PCB jewelry are experiments in how context influences the perception of technical objects and designs. These accessories are comprised of a hand-made circuit board that use the traces and hardware for an FM radio as the main aesthetic theme, the earrings are speakers, and the bracelet provides the connecting wire.
Heartbeat Hoodie (model: Britnee Underwood):
The Heartbeat Hoodie explores the idea of involuntarily documenting parts of life using a camera to take photographs at moments of interest or excitement. The camera, strategically placed above the eyes on the hoodie, takes photographs as the wearer’s heart rate increases. The camera is wired discreetly through the seeming of the garment to a basic stamp that communicates with a wireless heart rate monitor. The basic stamp uses an algorithm to analyze the heartbeat for increases that might signify a moment of excitement or interest as opposed to physical exercise. At the end of the day, you can reflect on moments that caused interest and excitement by viewing the photographs. Since the photographs are taken involuntarily, you may find new points of interest that you were not conscious of.
Mobius Strip Bag (model: Katie Zakula ):
A mobius strip is a one-sided figure most classically known as a loop with a half twist. When a mobius strip is cut in half, instead of becoming two loops, it becomes one longer loop. Mobius strip bag is a small purse with a half twist which unzips to become a longer shoulder bag.
Electronic Component Jewelry:
Electronic Component Jewelry is inspired by the idea that there is a beauty to objects that are carefully considered and executed for the purpose of functionality. Made from actual electronic components, this jewelry plays on the parallels between engineering and artistry.
Reedswitch (model: Ashley Jennings) – A reedswitch is a switch that turns on and off when it passes by a magnet.
Fuse (model: Megan Nava) – This necklace features 7amp, 250 volt slow blow fuses which turn off a circuit when ioverheats. Thus protecting the circuit.
Wire (model: Melissa Mcaan) – Wire facilitates the transfer of electricity in a circuit and is often made of very conductive material to minimize resistance.
Inflatable Dress (model: Bruna Palmeria):
As an exploration of how a design changes through shape and color, we created a gown that fits closely to the body but inflates to become bell shaped with tendril-like spikes on the back and large pillows of air on the sides. The silhouette of the gown can be changed by varying the amount of air.
Thank you to Diana Eng and Emily Albinski for making the show a success with your amazing work!
Thank you also to the following talented people who worked on the show!
Katie Zakula, Megan Nava, Bruna Paimeria, Nicole Watt, Ashley Jennings, Davina Tong, Britnee Underwood, Erica Curry, Melissa Mcaan, Felicia Tsang, Diana Georgie, and Sheila Georgie.
John Robert Powers Modeling Agency
Michelle Golobish, Redwood City (650) 832-2200
Zacqueline Davis, Kentfield (415) 259-3910
Hairstylists, Makeup Artists, and Fitter:
College of San Mateo Cosmetology Department
Kate Lawson, Jecka Kessinger, Megan Knapp, Lyndsey Hemstreet, and Jennifer Gonzales
James Duncan Davidson
see all his photos from Maker Faire