Friday, May 6, 2016

Future Fashions

Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Photograph @Kimberly Alexander
I recently had the opportunity to spend time at both the Currier Museum ( and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (, pondering the current and future ramifications of technology and material in the current fashion marketplace. How do post-consumer recycled materials, fused fibers and 3D printing change not only the look and possibility of an evolving “fashion”? How does this alter the availability of items such as shoes for world cultures in need of footwear – whether the need be created by poverty, famine, or natural disaster? How do new technologies free the body or respond to the environment? Of course, there are hardly new questions, but if you are interested in making your own exploration, I encourage you to visit #techstyle at the MFA Boston and “Killer Heels” at the Currier Museum (on view until 15 May 2016;

There are a number of fascinating garments included in #techstyle, but I have selected just a few, in large part because my predilection is for an exploration of how past dress iconography is envisioned in new materials and with relatively recent technologies.

One of the best known garments in the exhibition is the “Anthozoa” cape and skirt. Curious about the title, I did a bit of research and discovered that anthozoas are from the family of sea anemenoe and corals. They can be brightly colored, vary in size and live singly or in a colony. Taken in this context, the dress and cape is all the more paradoxical – using the natural form of a sea creature as the basis of a design which is created by predominately man-made materials.

Iris van Herpen and Neri Oxman
Anthozoa 3D cape and skirt from the Voltage Collection, 2013
Polyurethane rubber and acrylic co-polymer 3D printed on Stratasys Connex 3D printer, steel cage, cotton twill, silk satin

Manish Arora known for combining “traditional Indian crafts like embroidery, applique , and beading with Western silhouettes.”  The bodice, which was look #33 from his Spring/Sumer 2013 collection is a fusion of traditional clothing with modern technology; here the laser-cut leather is embroidered with beads and sequins.

Finally, both exhibitions plumb shoe typology and technology in work of the late Zaha Hadid for NOVA and the botanically-inspired shoes of Iris Van Herpen and Rem D. Koolhaus, United Nude.

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