Techstyle exhibition in Boston explores how technology is changing fashion
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.
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 show explores how technology is impacting fashion, from design to manufacturing, and also examines the way people interact with their clothing.
"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.
"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.
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.
Thirty-two designers from around the world will be represented, including Neri Oxman, Alexander McQueen, Viktor & Rolf and Iris van Herpen.
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.
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.
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.
"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."
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.
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.
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.
It will be staged in the museum's Henry and Lois Foster Gallery.
"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."
"It's fitting that #techstyle is on view here in Boston, a crucible for technology and research," said Parmal.
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.