Techstyle exhibition in Boston explores how technology is changing fashion

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A purse that charges a cell phone and an animated dress that displays tweets are among the pieces that will be presented in an upcoming exhibition at Boston's leading art museum.

Anthozoa cape and skirt from the Voltage collection by Iris van Herpen and Neri Oxman, 2013. Printed by Stratasys
Anthozoa cape and skirt from the Voltage collection by Iris van Herpen and Neri Oxman, 2013. Printed by Stratasys

Called #techstyle, the show opens 6 March and runs until 10 July 2016 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), one of the largest museums in the United States.

The Bird from the Air collection by The Unseen, 2014
The Bird from the Air collection by The Unseen, 2014

The show explores how technology is impacting fashion, from design to manufacturing, and also examines the way people interact with their clothing.

Molecule Shoe designed by Francis Bitonti, 2015. Printed with Stratysys Connex 3D Printer with printing software by Adobe Photoshop
Molecule Shoe designed by Francis Bitonti, 2015. Printed with Stratasys Connex 3D Printer with printing software by Adobe Photoshop

"The exhibition focuses on the merging of fashion and technology – clothes that respond to the environment, fabrics patterned by lasers, dresses that you can tweet, and ready-to-wear garments that come off a 3D printer," said MFA.

Highrise Shoe by United Nude, 2015
Highrise Shoe by United Nude, 2015

"The technologies behind many of the objects are practiced here in Boston, a longtime hub of innovation, but now emerging also as a centre of 'smart' fashion," said the museum.

132 5 Dress by Reality Lab, Miyake Design Studio, 2010
132 5. Dress by Reality Lab, Miyake Design Studio, 2010

The show is similar in spirit to the Manus x Machina exhibition opening this May at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Boston show will include 60 pieces, from dresses that move independently from the wearer to leather capes that change colour in response to light, heat and wind.

132 5 Dress by Reality Lab, Miyake Design Studio, 2010
132 5. Dress by Reality Lab, Miyake Design Studio, 2010

Thirty-two designers from around the world will be represented, including Neri Oxman, Alexander McQueen, Viktor & Rolf and Iris van Herpen.

32 5 Dress by Reality Lab, Miyake Design Studio, 2010
132 5. Dress by Reality Lab, Miyake Design Studio, 2010

One notable piece will be the interactive MFA Dress by London-based studio CuteCircuit, which will display images from the museum's collection like The Great Wave woodblock print by the Chinese artist Katsushika Hokusai and the seminal painting Street Singer by Edouard Manet.

The images will be selected by visitors using an iPad in the gallery.

Engineered Reptile Print Dress by Sally LaPointe, 2015
Engineered Reptile Print Dress by Sally LaPointe, 2015

The dress, which was specially commissioned for the exhibition, will also show tweeted messages from people around the world who use #tweetthedress on social media.



The designers used their "magic fabric" to create the dress, which features more than 10,000 micro-LEDs.

Petals dress by Nervous System
Petals dress by Nervous System

Another notable piece in the show is a 3D-printed dress by the Massachusetts-based studio Nervous System, which was founded by a mathematician and an architect/biologist.

The dress consists of three pieces that are easily snapped together.

Raquel Zimmerman wearing ensemble from Alexander McQueen’s Plato’s Atlantis collection, 2010. Photograph by Nick Knight
Raquel Zimmerman wearing ensemble from Alexander McQueen's Plato's Atlantis collection, 2010. Photograph by Nick Knight

"Generated from a body scan, this dress can be fully customised using a design app on the company's website," said the museum.

"Its wearability represents the potential of this technology to transform the industry in the future."

Metallic Leather Fringe Dress by Giles Deacon, 2012
Metallic Leather Fringe Dress by Giles Deacon, 2012

The exhibition will also present new methods for creating sustainable textiles.

"Traditional ways of processing natural fibres, weaving cloth and dyeing are among the world's most wasteful manufacturing processes, making sustainability an important goal for many designers and manufacturers," the museum explained.

Bodysuit from the Hard Copy collection by Noa Raviv, 2014
Bodysuit from the Hard Copy collection by Noa Raviv, 2014

Other pieces include the Ricky Bag with Light from Ralph Lauren, which is a commercially available purse that can charge a cell phone; a high-tech artificial leg designed by British artist and MIT Media Lab fellow Viktoria Modesta; and a video of Marcus Tomlinson's 2010 Airplane Dress, a garment that is operated by a remote control.

Ricky Bag with Light by Ralph Lauren, 2015
Ricky Bag with Light by Ralph Lauren, 2015

The show is curated by Pamela Parmal, chair of the museum's department of textile and fashion arts, along with Michelle Finamore and Lauren Whitely, both curators within the department.

Pop star Viktoria Modesta wearing The Spike artificial leg, created by Sophie de Oliviera de Barata as part of the Alternative Limb Project
Pop star Viktoria Modesta wearing The Spike artificial leg, created by Sophie de Oliviera de Barata as part of the Alternative Limb Project

It will be staged in the museum's Henry and Lois Foster Gallery.

Tuxedo with LED e-broidery inspired by Thomas Ruff’s astral photographs by Akris, Autumn Winter 2014
Tuxedo with LED e-broidery inspired by Thomas Ruff's astral photographs by Akris, Autumn Winter 2014

"Many of today's designers actively seek out collaborations with scientists and engineers to apply new technologies in digital media, sustainability and even biotech to their work," said Parmal.

"At the same time, scientists and engineers have embraced fashion pushing the boundaries of manufacturing and design."

Wearable Art collection, Autumn Winter 2015, by Viktor & Rolf
Wearable Art collection, Autumn Winter 2015, by Viktor & Rolf

"It's fitting that #techstyle is on view here in Boston, a crucible for technology and research," said Parmal.

Water Splash Crystallization dress by Iris van Herpen, 2013
Water Splash Crystallization dress by Iris van Herpen, 2013

Other recent fashion exhibitions include a show at Antwerp's Modemuseum about Spanish couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga, and a showcase of work by the late designer Alexander McQueen, which ran in New York and London.

  • Concerned Citizen

    Apparently, these fashion “designers” really get a kick out of anyone taking them seriously.

    • Karol_B

      This is not about being ‘serious’. :-D