When it comes to wearable tech, you won’t find many fashion designers more schooled in space than Amy Winters, whose Rainbow Winters line ranges from more traditional dresses in digitally-printed fabrics to high-impact performer-friendly pieces capable of responding to light, sound and sun.
Fresh from London’s fabulously geeky Kinetica Artfair held earlier this year and a nominee for designer of the year at last month’s Irish Fashion Innovation Awards, Winters is hard at work on her a new project called The Awakening of Insects. While she’s mum on further details for now, you can assume it will hug the intersection of fashion and technology as much as her previous creations, which include a sound-reactive party dress that flashes lightening bolts as the volume rises and a pretty day dress that changes color in UV light.
To dig deeper into Winters’ work with high-tech fashion, we did a little Q&A. Read on for the details behind two of her most widely-shown wearable tech creations.
Tell us a little about the garment(s) you showed at this year’s Kinetica show – were they all sound-reactive? The Thunderstorm Dress is sound-reactive and constructed with holographic leather and sound-reactive, animated electroluminescent panels. As the volume increases, the dress illuminates in a pattern of lightning bolts. The Picasso Explosion is a neoprene tube dress with sculptured electroluminescent panels made of mirrored side panels. The dress animates to volume. Inspired by sculptural light paintings, at the highest volume, the dress illuminates white, blue and red light.
What about the technology behind the design – how does your creation work? The dresses light up in response to music, thanks to electroluminescent (EL) technology and a sound-reactive sensor. EL panels are printable electronics made using techniques similar to a newspaper printing press. Sound triggers the sensor, zapping EL panels attached to the dress with an electrical current.
How do you envision someone wearing your dresses? They’re obviously statement pieces, but are there specific places or use cases you had in mind when you created them? My pieces are made for ‘performers’ and performances to express the aesthetic and emotive capabilities of technology. The core idea is unique: dramatic garments that react to changes in environment. The clothes become technological works of art in themselves, constantly transforming.
What’s the biggest challenge you face as a designer trying to integrate technology into wearable garments? The biggest challenge is in manufacturing, as the integrating of technology does tend to be more complicated than straightforward clothes manufacturing. The other challenge is the perception of the fashion industry and the infrastructure of the industry, which is not set-up for upcoming innovations.
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