On 7th June 2010, the Materials KTN turned the House of Lords into a fashion exhibition, complete with catwalk, for its annual evening reception. The event showcased fashion and clothing with incorporated UK-based smart materials technology.
Attended by the BPF, Lord Haskel, Honorary Chairman of the Materials KTN’s technical textiles sector, opened the event, explaining it came out of the catwalk show held in Milan, Italy, in December 2009. With fabrics and garments that sense, keep the wearer dry or warm, and emit, reflect or absorb light, ‘no wonder this show is called MADE in Future’, he said. He advocated bringing together the design and materials communities to encourage growth as a way of sorting out the UK’s debt. Technology is part of the engineer of growth, he extolled.
Images clockwise from top left: Two images of the tartan dress shown in the dark image (below), Lord Haskel giving his speech at the event, LED Skirt from Georgina Bavalia of Nottingham Trent University
As part of the static display Amy Winters from MagicBox London displayed a sound reactive dress. Winters is a theatre and set designer who ‘wanted to create something that interacts with people’. The dress has been worn by Lady Gaga. Winters enjoys playing with the interaction of sound and colour, bringing out the emotion of clothes and a multi-sensory experience. The garment incorporates sound-reactive sensors so that the lightening pattern on the skirt of the dress intensifies as the volume rises.
The catwalk show featured some of the items displayed in the static exhibition, as well as other examples of smart technology, including
• Anti-bacterial trousers by Ann Muirhead, University of Coventry. The garment was designed for service personnel with leg fractures requiring fixators, an external frame assembled in a bespoke arrangement to suit the injury. The trouser covers the fixator and encourages patient recovery with its similarity to a military trouser – this is seen as an emotionally positive route back to regular routine. The trouser aims to not stigmatise the user. Due to infection risk, it is uses an anti-bacterial fabric, silver coated using nanotechnology.
• Reflective fabrics by Ella Sharp, also of Coventry University. The outfits combine reflective fabric with classic tailoring. The suits provide high visibility at night without the need for conventional, less flattering reflective clothing. The sponsors for the fabric were 'Dashing Tweeds', London.
• Electroluminescent fashion by Sarah Brown, student at Heriot Watt University. Sarah’s final fashion collection was themed around energy. The collection encompasses her interest in science and how scientific discovery allows all industries to develop. The coat that incorporates electroluminescent wire is the beginning of her work with smart wearables – she hopes to continue to combine technology with high-end fashion.
• 3D printing, The University of Manchester. The development of 3D textile design at Manchester has led to the spin out company Tri-D Textiles Company. Tri-D specialises in cutting edge branded and non-branded 3D images which appear normal when viewed with the naked eye but wearing 3D glasses reveals a hidden dimension. When printing a moveable 3D platform can be created to showcase the product and the image. A range of commercial products has been developed for the high street, ranging from pyjamas and duvets to books and jigsaws.
• Reflective Yarns and Knitting, Megan Aylott. This reflective garment is on the theme of light revealed. It is a visual exploration of the way light is represented in the environment around it. A glossy surface highlights textures and contrasts against the black of the garment. Light reflects and shines iridescently. Aylott is looking to collaborate with scientists to develop ‘smart’ fashion fabrics.
• LED Skirt, Georgina Bavalia, Nottingham Trent University. The skirt uses carbonized rubber stretch sensors to light small constellations of LEDs when walking. The stretch sensor is in a knitted seam around the knees and movement data controls the patterns of light on the garment. Bavalia has been nominated for an innovation in fashion award and received the Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters Bursary for her proposal outlining the stretch sensor circuit in a garment.
The picture above is deliberately dark to show the clever light effects
• Cutecircuit. This fashion company, based in London, designs wearable technology and intelligent clothing that integrates new functionalities using smart textiles and micro electronics. Founders Francesa Rosella and Ryan Genz designed the couture gown for the Azerbaijan entrant in the Eurovision Song Contest. During the day, the Twirkle T-Shirt worn on the catwalk has colourful crystals which sparkle in the sunlight. At night, an array of white or full colour LEDs glow following the movement of the wearer’s body. The t-shirt is washable and works with two small watch batteries.