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Tech by VICE

Future Sex: Dani Read Designed a Femme Fatale Lingerie Line Inspired by Blade Runner

Dani Read designs elegant lingerie, loungewear, and toys for the future. After working for some of the most exciting lingerie brands in the business, she launched her own line, FYI, in 2010.

by Kelly Bourdet
Aug 15 2012, 4:00am

Dani Read designs elegant lingerie, loungewear, and toys for the future. After working for some of the most exciting lingerie brands in the business, she launched her own line, FYI, in 2010. Since then she's been designing each season's collection around a female archetype. For spring/summer 2013, she's been inspired by the female androids of science fiction, their androgyny, intelligence, and super-human sexuality.

In "The Replicant" Dani draws from sci-fi staples like Blade Runner and the fiction of Philip K. Dick and David Mitchell. Each piece in the collection has been named after a science fiction character. In a culture where technology can sometimes undermine emotional intimacy — all that texting and Facebook stalking doesn't always facilitate real, human connection — Dani hopes that her lingerie will encourage partners to interact. She incorporates bondage elements — and is researching future technology where a garment's fabric will change color with touch — in an effort to make the function of beautiful lingerie more than just its removal. I talked with Dani about her aesthetic and her hopes for fashion's future. She gave Motherboard a first look at the video lookbook for "The Replicant," and chatted with me about the future of robo-inspired undergarments.

How did you get involved in intimates design?

I knew at a really young age, by 10 or 11-years-old, that I wanted to work in fashion. At 17 I moved to New York City. I went to FIT and studied fashion design with a focus in art and fashion illustration. Right out of school I started designing women's wear, but never thought about intimates.

Then in 2007 I began working for lingerie line Marlies Dekkers doing retail and wholesale. It was just a different kind of lingerie. Her garments have strong designs with very inspiring aesthetic. Later, I left Marlies and went to work for Kiki de Montparnasse in sales and design. As a designer there, I discovered my interest in lingerie with kink and bondage elements. FYI, my own line, formed organically from ideas I had that weren't being used at Kiki. I made some samples for fashion week in 2011. I wasn't really thinking about forming my own company, but I discovered there was a demand for my designs.

Let's talk about your latest collection, "The Replicant."

"The Replicant" includes lingerie and loungewear and includes the largest collection of luxury fetish items of any of my collections thus far.

Each season I design around an archetype. FYI is always designed with the femme fatale in mind. This season I was inspired by a few different replicants, human-like characters, very isolated by psychology. Blade Runner was a huge influence; a couple pieces, Pris and Zhora, are inspired was characters from the film. In fact, every piece in the collection is named after a Sci-Fi character.

My central piece, a bra and panties set, is named after Sommi from David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas.

What are your thoughts on technology's impact on intimacy? Has it helped us or hindered our sexual and romantic lives?

Well, in our age group, we've all experienced life before the Internet, smart phones, and social media. We had no choice but to face awkwardness and get past discomfort. In a way, I think having to overcome that discomfort helps you get to know yourself and others. Now, we're able to use tech filters, I mean most people even text rather than call on phone. Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr are about creating personae for ourselves, sometimes exaggerated and sometimes completely untrue. We're using digital existence to define ourselves instead of our real-life experience. Sex is one our most intimate experiences. When you build up personal connection using tech filters, then you don't really know what you're going to get in real life. There's no more romance in front of a fireplace, now it takes place in front of the blue screen of a computer.

It sometimes makes sex less personal, less attached. I would say it's easier to have brief sexual encounters than ever before, not only because you can get involved through email and social media, but because technology-based relationships are easier to cut off, whereas it's not so easy to cut off physical relationship. Technology creates physical distance, and it makes sex better or worse depending on what you want out of the sex. But when you're building a relationship based on a persona, it's easier to romanticize the other person and that can result in disappoint.

The colors of the collection recall technological hues. Was that intentional?

Yes, the colors are inspired by tech colors, aqua teal and white. These are colors that are both sterile and comforting.

Technology sometimes makes sex less personal, less attached

Would you have sex with a replicant?

Yes, of course! Replicants are fascinating, and they're usually indistinguishable from humans, except they're faster, more attractive, more intelligent. What's not to love?

What are some of your future aspirations for your designs? How do you see new, more technologically advanced fabrics playing a role in future fashion?

I've been fascinated lately by the new aesthetic movement, a design and art movement taking place to counter the retro and vintage movements that have been happening for the past couple decades. New aesthetic takes the idea of taking digital influence and incorporating it into design. Sometimes it's about actually incorporating technology into fashion, sometimes just drawing inspiration from tech. An example is using wiring and metal on garments to make them look more futuristic without using actual technology.

And what does it mean for lingerie?

For me, what that means for lingerie is the opportunity to use tech to engage people with one another physically rather than remove them physically. Designing for the future of lingerie is to design to encourage partner play. I want to use texture and details that are meant to be used and played with together. This allows people to interact with one another rather than just cut to the chase. I want the sexual play of lingerie to be more than simply removing it.

I'm moving my pieces forward in a way that encourages people to physically engage. One of my most popular pieces, the binding brief, is designed to function both as an undergarment and an element for bondage play. Lately I've also been experimenting with using leucodye, a garment dye that changes colors on touch. I also hope to use EL fabrics – those with electroluminescence – as a fun and interactive way to incorporate lighting into my pieces.

What's your favorite piece from the collection?

One of the bondage pieces, the Agatha restraints, is named for the oracle character from "The Minority Report," another Phillip K. Dick novel. The piece consists of leather wrist restraints connected with chain on both sides. Restraints are always a popular item, but they're not always done well. The snake chain connecting the restraints on the Agatha looks like wire; it's very tech looking.

What do you hope we'll be wearing in 50 years?

I wouldn't be mad if we dressed like Tron. with a very futuristic aesthetic. I work a lot with leather, and I lean towards fetish and leather. I always prefer black, but I like the idea of incorporating light with black fabrics. I also hope that we've produced advanced fabric that can adjust to body temperature.

I also love androgynous fashion, and I think my work reflects that. I believe fashion is going to evolve to be more and more androgynous, also more utilitarian but it will maintain elements of sexuality. I can't picture exactly what the future will hold, but I have a few ideas.

Follow Kelly Bourdet on Twitter: @kellybourdet.

Blade Runner
philip k dick
Cloud Atlas
David Mitchell
Dani Read
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