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My Future Wedding Dress

This is cross-posted from Skepchick, where we might have a few more people interested in something that is partially about fashion, but I think it’s interesting enough to a broader audience as well.

Everyone just calm down — as far as I know, I’m not getting hitched anytime soon. Though I’m not the type to daydream about a long-distant fairytale wedding, I have to admit that I did find a dress that provoked certain . . . stereotypically girly thoughts.

My very talented friend John, who edited Curiosity Aroused and hosted the live recording of the SGU last August, is friends with the guy who runs ITP. That’s the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University, and it’s basically what happens when engineers and artists have babies who grow up and go to grad school. John attended the students’ spring show to see what was going on, and he sent me a few projects of interest. One caught my eye immediately: a lovely silk organza dress with butterflies on it that flap their wings to the beat of the wearer’s heart. I know, I was overcome with joy as well.

It turns out, the butterflies also incorporate the proximity of surrounding people to properly time the wing flapping, and they’re modeled after real species. It doesn’t get much cooler, to me: it’s a gorgeously wearable style that incorporates science, technology, fashion, and a pretty cool philosophy that might make you think more about how we interact with the world around us.

The inventor’s name is Alex Reeder, and he was kind enough to answer a few questions about my new to-die-for dress. Our e-mail conversation is after the jump!

REBECCA:

Hi Alex,

A friend of mine attended the most recent ITP and told me about your butterfly dress, and I love it! I run a web site for sciencey geeky chicks at skepchick.org, and I’d like to post about it. I looked over your blog and just have a few questions I was hoping you could answer. Most important is how much is it? If it’s not for sale, have you considered making more? I mean really, I would get married just to wear it in front of others.

ALEX:

Hello Rebecca,

Thanks! I’d love if you’d blog about it. I am thinking about making the dress on a commission basis, or perhaps a limited run of 3. I really would rather people wore and enjoyed the dress. How much? With no deep thought I imagine around ~5k, and that would include maintainence when required. That said, before I start selling I need people to wear and give me feedback! ;) I do plan on making another one or two – now the fabric is very wedding, I’d like to make one which is more informal, to enjoy on a stroll through the park.

REBECCA:

How does one volunteer to test-run the dress for you? I’m a size 8, hint hint. :D

ALEX:

;)
I’m in Tokyo right now, but when I get back to New York and into the swing of things I’ll let you know!!

REBECCA:

What was the biggest technological challenge, and what was the biggest fashion challenge?

ALEX:

Technological and fashion challenges really overlap. Technologically keeping everything small: the battery, flapping mechanism, and so on, so they fit into the dress without impacting aesthetics was difficult. Hiding the technology was a must for me, so that means layering fabric to cover the electronics. What fabric has the lightness of a butterfly, is beautiful, and can be layered as well? It took awhile to find what I was looking for.

REBECCA:

How did you get interested in merging fashion and technology?

ALEX:

To clarify, I’m not so much interested in “fashion” (industry/designer to consumer top-down structure) as I am in transforming the clothes we wear, what they mean to us and how they effect our relationships. My background is in technology, although I have always loved couture. The key which linked everything together for me was Despina Papadopoulos in a class at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (The Softness of Things). What can be more fun than rethinking how we treat this skin always draped on our bodies? What can we make it do? What do you want it to do? Not to do?

REBECCA:

What’s your next project?

ALEX:

I’m working on two collaborations with fashion designers, one in New York, another in Tokyo. Beyond that I haven’t decided… Perhaps something involving collars, perhaps architecture… We’ll see!

REBECCA:

Thanks Alex!

ALEX:

My pleasure.

(pic is from Alex's site, click to go see more!)

The pics are from Alex’s site. Go find out more there!

6 comments to My Future Wedding Dress

  • Icethora

    Hi Rebecca. The butterfly dress reminds me of an Danish artist (Odd something, and an exhibition about 15 years ago)who surprised us oglers with butterflies imbedded/protruding in/from one of his paintings and flapping their wings. Maybe what fascinates us is that butterflies are gorgeous bugs that do not stand still for admiration, they’re so blasé about their beauty, as all nature is. So, I loved the dress so much that I posted a link to my daughters – not for marrying purposes, tentacles forbid.
    I have listened to the podcast for over a year now, always looking forward to the next one. I am also an avid reader of Skepchick. Love you all.
    Thora – Skeptic, atheist, Icelandic. (I have yet to encounter a fellow countryman that does not believe in some sort of “being” or “spirit”. I have been told that my lack of belief is due to me being “a young soul” (immature unbeliever) whereas all the rest are “old souls” (mature and in sync). I have re-written some of the old tales about “the hidden people” from the perspective of their “victims” who get lost in the fog and suffer hallucinations due to hunger and general hardship. De-mystifying the BS with a twist, innit!
    Rebecca, Steve, Bob, Jay, Evan – Thank you, thank you, and again.

  • Nigel

    I must be a guy. I looked at the dress and thought e-h-h. I showed it to my wife and when I told her about the flapping wings to the beat of the wearers heart she said “that’s really cool.” I am not Michael Kors or Tim Gunn, so my opinion means next to nothing.

  • Don’t worry, Nigel, only one man is Tim Gunn and no other man can possibly compare.

    Seriously, the man is so close to my god that I have a stickie note above my computer that reads “WWTGD?”

  • Nigel

    Tim would do one thing, and one thing only. He would make it work.

  • VicGombos

    Damn, Rebecca–and you made fun of the other Skeptics’ Geekdom?
    I vote this dress the Skepchick’s Fanny Pack!

  • Steve Page

    It’s very nice, but I’ve just not got the hips for it.

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