Plugged In: High Tech Fashion at The Museum at FIT
When side by side, the words fashion and technology oft conjure images of barely wearable ensembles destined for Lady Gaga. But at the Museum at FIT’s latest exhibition, Fashion and Technology, which opened yesterday, co-curators Ariele Elia and Emma McClendon reveal that technology is a crucial part of our ordinary wares. Spanning 250 years of innovation, the show covers such everyday inventions as the washing machine, rayon, and the zipper. But that’s not to say it’s without sci-fi novelties. For instance, there are jazzy space race-era looks by the likes of Pierre Cardin and Emilio Pucci. Also on display are garments by André Courrèges, who, convinced that space would soon become a hot holiday destination, developed an entire intergalactic wardrobe, complete with a sleek PVC helmet and moon boots.
However, as Diane von Furstenberg notes in a video playing at the exhibition, “Things we thought would be sci-fi exist.” Case in point, von Furstenberg’s Spring ’13 collaboration with Google Glass. Of course, she’s not the only Internet-savvy designer. In 1996, Jean Paul Gaultier created a cyberspace-inspired jumpsuit (pictured above). And don’t even get us started on social media’s fashion influence. Remember the frenzy Burberry caused when it released its Spring ’12 collection on Twitter before it hit the runway?
Perhaps most high-tech is the exhibition’s tiny LilyPad Arduino circuit board, which, when sewn into clothing, is pretty much a wearable computer. “You first see things like wearable electronics in places like athletic wear and the military,” said McClendon, explaining that it’s only later that most designers realize tech-fashion’s artistic potential. A cutting-edge innovation that may take a little longer to catch on? Clothing “grown” from bacteria. Not sure if we’re ready for a “BioCouture” top just yet.
Fashion and Technology is on display at the Museum at FIT from December 4 to May 8.