Chameleonic gemstones map brain activity
across headdress by The Unseen

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Vicenza headdress by The Unseen for Swarovski

Fashion studio The Unseen has created a gemstone-encrusted headdress that changes colour in response to varying energy levels in the brain.

Vicenza headdress by The Unseen for Swarovski

Continuing her work with colour-changing ink, The Unseen founder Lauren Bowker worked with gemstone company Swarovski to form the Vicenza headpiece.



Over 4,000 specially grown stones cover the top of the headdress, formed from overlapping layers of leather that cover the wearer's forehead, temples, tops of ears and back of the neck.

The Black Spinel stones are coated in Bowker's signature ink, which responds to different climatic conditions.

Acting as conduction insulators, the stones absorb energy loss from the head and change colour as the levels vary.

"It works on every person we have tried," Bowker told Dezeen. "Certain conditions of the human will alter the colours in different ways, as every human is different."

Excitement, nerves, and fear all produce different colours, and quicker shifts in emotion create more dramatic patterns.

Vicenza headdress by The Unseen for Swarovski

"Skin conductivity, heat, temperature, breathing patterns and emotional state all effect the aesthetic of the piece, just as our neural emotions effect our skin colour etc," said Bowker.

The colours and locations of energy loss across the head also change throughout the day.

"We have found the morning to produce much more orange coloured patterns at the front of the brain on the forehead, whereas in the evening the patterns tend to be much bluer and to the back right of the brain," Bowker said.

The gemstones are grown in Swarovski's lab to give uniform qualities across the stones, including shape, symmetry and light dispersion.

Vicenza headdress by The Unseen for Swarovski

The Unseen is continuing experiments with the technology, which could be used to create a method of communication between people who aren't able to use other means.

"Going forward we are conducting research and looking to couple MRI technology to the visual results forming a more accurate analysis of our heat patterns and what exact emotion is being displayed through the stone – this piece is just a concept to get us started," Bowker explained.

"We have had an overwhelming response to it so far, from patients' relatives asking to use the technology to indicate brain activity in loved ones that may be unable to communicate."

Vicenza headdress by The Unseen for Swarovski

The piece will be displayed during London Fashion Week this September, when The Unseen's latest collection will be revealed at its emporium in Somerset House.

Bowker has previously embedded the ink into a series of feathered garments and a sculptural leather headpiece that was set alight during a presentation.

She developed the responsive inks and created a series of applications for the technology before founding fashion and design house The Unseen last year.

  • Romain_M

    Nice to see mood rings haven’t gone out of style… Can I expect to see a Swarovsky headdress in my next cereal box?

    All joking aside, the aesthetics had me dreaming of a Neo-Flamboyant Gothic future fraught with demure damsels. A future where no-one would ever spike a fever, lest it interfere with the precious “soul-stones” .