Coco Chanel once said, “Fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” In the eyes of fashion designers Francesca Rosella and Ryan Genz, the way we live right now is very much a technology-based world.
Whether you dream of wearing Katy Perry’s jazzy “American Idol” E.T. Catsuit with its interactive LEDs and sparkling Swarovsky crystals or rocking out in the U2’s LED studded leather jackets from their Worldwide 360º Tour, these fashion designs represent a new vision for the fashion industry. Fashion stylist and image consultant Laura Hunt said of CuteCircuit, "In order for our styles to evolve and to remain at the forefront, die-hard fashionistas want and crave something out-of-the-box and I think CuteCircuit meets this need.”
Rosella and Genz first met at Interaction Design Institute Ivrea, a graduate school in Italy. Rosella had worked as a fashion designer for Valentino and Genz was a trained artist, anthropologist and interaction designer. Interested in the concept of merging fashion and technology, they began collaborating on ideas. After leaving the Institute, Rosella and Genz founded the fashion company, CuteCircuit, in 2004.
The company’s innovative designs have made them the leaders in the field of wearable technology and interactive fashion. In 2006, they developed the Hug Shirt, which was named one of the best inventions by Time Magazine. By utilizing Bluetooth and sensor technology, the shirt is designed to transmit the sensation and emotion of a hug from one person in one location to another person in a separate locale.
In 2009, the duo designed the Galaxy Dress (seen below), the world’s largest wearable LED display, which is on display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. The dress was embroidered with 24,000 colored lights underneath four layers of silk chiffon and a pleated silk organza crinoline skirt.
After seeing CuteCircuit’s designs, Katy Perry commissioned the team to design a gown for her. In 2010, Perry wowed the red carpet at the Met Gala in New York City with flowing silk chiffon number that had over 3000 rainbow colored LEDs. Stylist and fashion consultant Colin McDonald said, “Speaking of making of statement, I think this type of technology can almost be like wearable art.”
CuteCircuit’s groundbreaking designs aren’t merely for the rock star inclined. Just this year, the company launched a line of ready-to-wear versions of their most eye catching designs. Inspired by Katy Perry’s couture dress, the K-dress is a knee-length hand-pleated silk chiffon and silk taffeta dress with hundreds of embedded LED lights. There’s no need to worry about bringing an extension cord with you for this outfit. The dress is operated with a small snap-in controller that recharges via USB and has a battery that last up to 2 hours.
For those that prefer daring fashion without the rainbow colored pizazz, they’ll be happy to learn that not all CuteCircuit designs require a battery charger. For example, the Alien dress is a power mesh dress with reflective technology. This showstopper becomes illuminated when it comes into contact with direct light.
CuteCircuit was the first to sell LED style clothing in stores such as Selfridges, the first to use smart textile garments to create an emotional experience, and the first to design LED couture clothing for red carpet events. Hunt said, “I think the fashion forward, not-so-shy at heart are chomping at the bit to get their hands on CuteCircuit collections.”
As Rosella and Genz’s designs continue to break new ground in the industry, CuteCircuit, like their company motto states, is here to provide the “future fashion now.”
Photo courtesy of CuteCircuit.