Shape Changing Dresses and Shareable Wearables

Shape Changing Dresses and Shareable Wearables
Scott Ballum
  • 15 may 2009

Somewhere between fashion, art, performance, technology, architecture, and that mom who dresses her twins exactly the same everyday, lies the work of Di Mainstone. Though she first stretched her creative wings at UK fashion brand Soochi, the collaborations she found herself initiating with architects and dancers would alter her route from the traditional to the experimental, creating wearables that are far from what you’ll find at Forever 21.

Mainstone’s pieces can read and interpret body gestures, and respond appropriately with specially created audio soundscapes. Or, it might use the body as a terrain to send messages from one wearer to another. A spin of a parasol will light up her counterpart’s tie, or garments will snap together in varieties of ways with unexpected results. One of her most remarkable creations is a line of dresses that has a mind of its own – integrating shape-memory alloys, magnets, and electrical circuits, what first appears to be couture off a Paris catwalk will suddenly start to envelop or reveal the model, entirely on its own. This line of Skorpion dresses is more likely to be displayed in a dark room — peep show style — than near any Fashion Week tents. Small intimate environments, voyeurism, exhibitionism, and performance are as much a part of these pieces as the textiles and engineering themselves.

Equally outlandish and intriguing is her most latest design Sharewear, currently touring the world via matching wooden boxes and modeled exclusively by sets of identical twins in each city. Intentionally bringing the intimate into the public, and allowing others to determine how her pieces work, each performance is slightly uncomfortable and entirely unique. The twins pull each piece from its box and dress each other, experimenting with how the dresses can be worn, and how they interact, often producing effects that even the artist herself never intended or expected. So is it fashion or is it art? This unanswered question seems part of Mainstone’s point, but it is definitely a unique platform for playing predictability off of spontaneity, and personal space off of interaction.

Mainstone is an artist in residence at Eyebeam, currently developing collaborative prototypes riffing on themes of isolation and community in New York City.


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