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Living Dresses Move, Breathe, and Know How You’re Feeling

Ying Gao uses technology to demonstrate the protective and uncertain natures of interactive clothing.

by Francesca Capossela
Jun 8 2016, 2:00pm

Photo by Dominique Lafond. Images courtesy of the artist

Two dresses imbued with robotic movement and facial recognition software, move subtley, as if they’re breathing. But show an ounce of emotion, and they freeze. Composed of high-tech super organza, cotton mesh, PVDF, and electronic devices, they're full of art and tech, yet appear smoky and fragile. Fashion designer Ying Gao created these dresses, poetically named Can’t and Won’t, to explore the aesthetic of false neutrality using what she describes as a “living system.” 

Gao sees neutrality as a kind of humility, which she says is, “out of sync with today’s over the top expressiveness.” In addition to exploring the effects of emotional expression on our surroundings, Gao says her dresses are “reminiscent of microbial life,” asking the viewer to consider what life looks like and how ecosystems are affected by our behavior.

Photos by Dominique Lafond

Gao’s work often explores the relationship between the garment and the wearer, and the garment’s interaction with the world at large. She uses technology to demonstrate the protective and uncertain natures of these clothes. We've seen these concepts before in Gao's (No)where (Now)here, a glowing dress that fades with the model's facial expressions. Another of her dresses, inspired by the theme of voice-activated uncertainty, has pins that move when the viewer speaks.

To see more examples of Gao’s interactive clothing, visit her website.

Related Links:

What You Staring At? Ying Gao’s Gaze-Activated Dresses

Interactive Fashion Designer Ying Gao Creates Voice Activated Fabric

Sensory Elegance: a Q&A With Conceptual Fashion Designer Ying Gao