Lady Gaga's flying dress offers vision of
how "we may all travel in ten years time"

Dezeen and MINI Frontiers: created for Lady Gaga, the Volantis is the world's first flying dress and heralds the beginning of a new era for human flight, says designer Benjamin Males.

Studio XO and Lady Gaga, Volantis, world's first flying dress
The world's first flying dress, Volantis, on its first public demonstration in November 2013. Credit: Terry Richardson

Rapidly developing flight technology will make personal flying vehicles commercially viable in the near future according to Benjamin Males, co-founder of London-based fashion and technology company Studio XO, who developed the Volantis for Lady Gaga.

Benjamin Males of Studio XO
Benjamin Males of Studio XO

"Volantis might seem very science fiction," says Males, "but if you consider the developments in vehicle design, if you look at the trends toward space travel and jet pack design, actually the idea of having a personal aerial vehicle that has to have style doesn't seem that crazy".

Studio XO and Lady Gaga, Volantis, world's first flying dress
Lady Gaga with Studio XO's directors, Nancy Tilbury and Benjamin Males. Credit: Terry Richardson

"Who knows, in ten years time we may all be flying round in Volantises," he adds.

Volantis is remote controlled and flies using 12 battery-powered propellors. Flown by a trained pilot who specialises in unmanned vehicles, it was unveiled with Lady Gaga at a warehouse in Brooklyn, New York City, in November last year.

Studio XO and Lady Gaga, Volantis, world's first flying dress
Blueprint showing section and elevational projections of Volantis

Speaking to Dezeen at Studio XO's London headquarters, Males explains how the aircraft is powered by 12 rotor blades and borrows technology commonly used in the manufacture of drones.

"It's known as a hex 12. It has six arms and 12 rotors. Each arm has two rotors which provide the thrust to lift [it] off the ground," he says.

Studio XO and Lady Gaga, Volantis, world's first flying dress
Nancy Tilbury and Benjamin Males fasten Lady Gaga into Volantis. Credit: Terry Richardson

The truss section at the centre of the aircraft, to which Gaga was fastened by a belt, is made of titanium. The rotors and her custom-made bodice are made of carbon fibre.

The passenger stands inside a white bodice that is connected to the truss. "Although the machine had to be strong, we also wanted it to have the affordances of fashion. So we made a very beautiful front casing which completed the dress," says Males.

Studio XO and Lady Gaga, Volantis, world's first flying dress
Volantis hovering above the ground on its first public flight. Credit: Terry Richardson

White cylinders surround the rotors in hexagonal formation and connect in the centre above the dress, which rests on the ground using a circular stand when not in flight.

Studio XO and Lady Gaga, Volantis, world's first flying dress
Lady Gaga in front of Volantis

Studio XO has also worked with  other high-profile artists including the Black Eyed Peas and Azealia Banks, to create hybrid stage costumes that combine fashion and technology.

"We bring these subjects together, in this space – in this quite unique environment," says Males, who is now working on the launch of a new ready-to-wear brand developing some of the ideas from the company's stage work.

The music featured in the movie is a track by Simplex. You can listen to his music on Dezeen Music Project.

Dezeen and MINI Frontiers is a year-long collaboration with MINI exploring how design and technology are coming together to shape the future.

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  • mb4design

    Even if this were developed with portable power, do we want people who can’t navigate the sidewalk without bumping into others to have flight capability?

    • incredulous

      In ten years we’ll all have personal chauffeurs that specialise in unmanned flight vehicles. So problem solved.

      Also, what’s the top speed and flight speed on this? How does it perform in a range of weather conditions? Personal flight is already pretty advanced today. Like you said, some people just can’t be trusted to be at the helm of six whirring blades.

      And it looks scary too. It’s cool, but don’t pretend it’s going to be feasible.

  • humbuck

    It’s a flying machine, not a flying dress.

  • TFO

    And those rotors will be a great (suburban) means to manage personal space!

  • Charlotte

    This is the futuristic way for Lady Gaga to escape from the clutches of paparzzi.

  • Come Off It

    It barely lifted off the ground.

  • OddStrange

    Pfft, that isn’t futuristic, that’s a publicity stunt. Publicity stunts are Lady Gag’s bread and butter.
    There are more feasible means of personal flight.

  • Concerned Citizen

    The dress is the least significant part of the contraption. That’s like calling an airplane a flying barf bag.

Posted on Monday, April 14th, 2014 at 2:17 pm by James Pallister. See our copyright policy.

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