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Fashion Goes Hi-Tech, Katy Perry Literally Sparkles

Photonics.com
Jun 2011
Jun. 30, 2011 — Light-emitting diodes have long played a role in fashion. Mostly, they have inhabited the end of the fashion spectrum dominated by kid’s shoes and Rudolph sweaters with light-up noses. This is starting to change, though.


The Edge and Larry Mullen Jr. donned LED jackets for a May 21 concert in Denver (Image: @U2)


In recent years we have begun to see LED-based fashion on the other end of the spectrum: in the world of haute couture. Fashion designer Hussein Chalayan impressed audiences in early 2008 with a series of LED dresses, each with 15,000 individually controlled LEDs, enabling the display of video imagery on the dresses. The ‘Galaxy Dress by Francesca Rosella and Ryan Genz of CuteCircuit, features 24,000 LEDs.

LED-based fashion has also received a boost from a host of singers and bands. In April, singer Katy Perry (you might remember her from Sesame Street and from How Katy Perry’s Cleavage Could Save Optics) performed on American Idol wearing a CuteCircuit design. Rihanna, U2 and Daft Punk have also recently rocked the LED look.

LEDS are beginning to find their way into commercially available clothing as well. Earlier this year, Berlin-based fashion label MOON Berlin launched a new collection – dubbed “I’M NOT A ROBOT” – that incorporates LED technology into otherwise classic designs. Whereas other “haute tech” fashions have been engineered explicitly for the catwalk and the stage, the label says, the technology used here is durable enough to be sold commercially. The hi-tech clothing is washable and, with protective foil, ironable.


MOON Berlin garments use specially designed LED technology. On special request, the label says, they can also integrate sensors for motion, warmth or acoustics. With these, the wearer’s environment can trigger a variety of effects. (Image: MOON Berlin)


MOON Berlin developed the illuminated designs in cooperation with the Frauenhofer Institute and the company Stretchable Circuits. The LED bulbs are affixed to an electrical circuit imprinted on a soft, flexible material that can be placed between the main material and the lining of a garment or even attached directly to the fabric.

The clothing doesn’t come cheap. Individual outfits range from 2000 to 3000 Euro, the label says (USD2895 to USD4343). That’s the price you pay, I suppose, for lighting up a room.


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