Dezeen Magazine

Ying Gao's dresses become animated "in the presence of strangers"

Fashion designer Ying Gao has created a collection of robotic dresses, with fibrous panels that delicately twist and curl when they identify strangers nearby.

The Possible Tomorrow's collection is inspired by Gao's interest in the notion that clothing is often seen as a protective barrier.

Possible Tomorrows by Ying Gao

The dresses' movements are triggered by a fingerprint scanner built into a wooden frame that sits around the wearer's neck.

The device sends to data to a microprocessor that uses Arduino – an open-source electronics platform – and if it doesn't recognise the fingerprint, it triggers motors embedded in each of the panels.

Fingers that are placed on the scanner more than once, and therefore no longer "strangers", will have no effect on the dress.

Possible Tomorrows by Ying Gao

"The purpose of the project is to subvert the logic of security so that garments become anti-security objects," Ying Gao told Dezeen. "The logic of security has become a political technology, that too often prevents us from emancipating. I would like these garments to open up to people that are strangers."

"The idea is that you can never make the dress move twice."

Possible Tomorrows by Ying Gao

All of the dresses are made from gauzy nylon mesh, while translucent thermoplastic has been used for the threads in the kinetic panels. All materials were specifically chosen by Gao for their flexibility and strength.

When motionless, the thread panels form flattened curves that are meant to echo the hypotrochoid patterns created by retro games like Spirograph, which partly informed Gao's designs.

"The challenge in terms of fashion design is to contract garments with free-flowing dimensions affording the potential for numerous shapes," the designer explained.

Possible Tomorrows by Ying Gao

Based in Montreal, Ying Gao has previously created dresses with integrated eye-tracking systems that move and light up when under someone's gaze. The fashion designer's Walking City collection also incorporated concealed pneumatic pumps so that the clothes appeared to breathe when their origami-style folds filled with air.