Sometimes literally, as with this ankle boot by Montreal designer Anastasia Radevich. The warning of This Will Destroy You, Lost Civilizations (F/W 2012) is certainly interesting, but the important message is the medium which made this shoe/heel possible: accessible 3D printing.
The intersection of technology and design is manifesting in two particularly interesting ways: "Firstly, fashion designers utilize technology to create new and exciting aesthetic possibilities," observe Margarita Benitez and Noël Palomo-Lovinski, curators of Shifting Paradigms: Fashion + Technology at Kent State University. "Secondly, designers use our cultural feelings about technology as a source of inspiration." With an amazing variety of open-source technology facilitating DIY - even your own shoes or jewelry on 3D-printing sites like Shapeways (a spinoff of Royal Philips Electronics) - it couldn't be easier to see what someone has created and then use it as a creative launchpad, pushing a concept forward, developing it further or just giving it a really interesting new spin.
This spin generally takes two forms: the showily "futuristic" and the actual future.
The "futuristic" tends to be some version of that body-con Star Trek uniform, just retooled a tad to zestily convey "Future!" Or, you'll get something like this beyond--fabulous Mugler creation from the late 90s that I've always been insanely in love with.
The actual future, however, is usually so new as to be hidden out in the open and therefore unrecognizable. Like the bikini below...very 60s, no? Actually, no. It was fitted using a CAD-scan of the body and then printed out in 3-D with small nylon beads. "However spooky in terms of the technology that produced it, "notes author and future-watcher William Gibson, coiner of the the term cyberspace, "it doesn't strike us, on sight, as particularly futuristic."
Nor does this piece, right, from the Nuue Collection by Jung Eun Lee of Studio Koya. It was made by wrapping synthetic fibers around a wooden mold. Once in place, the materials were pressure-heated until they fused, creating a garment that drapes as well as the best old-school fabrics and boasts an amazingly soft hand. (image)
Essentially, for Gibson, what separates the "futuristic" from the actual future is function. While the latter reflects breakthroughs in fabric technology, the former focuses on the outlandish for its own sake - which does have a certain artistic merit, telling us how we see ourselves right now.
How we see ourselves changes when a new technology emerges, be it as small as a refocusing of the details of the medium to something as newsworthy as a change in scale. And it's not the actual ups and downs of the hemlines that matter; rather, the real story is the physical form which incorporates a hemline after it completes its journey from the designer's head to the real world. "In a culture like ours long accustomed to splitting and dividing all things as a means of control," wrote Marshall McLuhan in his seminal 1964 book, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, HERE "it is sometimes a bit of a shock to be reminded that, in operational and practical fact, the medium is the message."
- Lesley Scott