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How tech is bringing the world of fashion to the future

By now we’re all pretty familiar with wearable tech, such as FitBit and the Oculus Rift. But what about haute couture? How has technology changed brands like YSL, Alexander McQueen, and Prada?

For the Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology exhibit, the who’s who of fashion and entertainment came out to show how hand-made and machine-made have converged. Held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art last May 2, the world got to see the products of innovations – such as 3D printing, laser-cutting, and digital knitting – on stars Emma Watson, Claire Danes, and model Karolina Kurkova.

For Watson, she wore a multi-piece monochrome dress made by Calvin Klein and Livia Firth’s Green Carpet Challenge. What made this outfit so impressive – apart from Emma herself – was that it was fabricated using yarns weaved from recycled plastic bottles!

“Plastic is one of the biggest pollutants – being able to turn this waste into a high quality material is a real success story,” said her stylist Sarah Slutsky.

“Also this beautiful look was designed with the intention to be re-purposed for future use; the pants can be worn on their own, the train can be used for another red carpet – the ultimate #30Wears!”

Karolina Kurkova, meanwhile, donned a flashy (quite literally) dress composed of 150 LED-connected flowers. A product of an unlikely collaboration between British design studio Marchesa and IBM, the “Cognitive Dress” lights up based on social media’s sentiment towards it.

Whenever someone tweets with the hashtags #MetGala and #CognitiveDress, the tech giant’s friendly cognitive computer, Watson, would classify those into the following emotions: joy, excitement, patience, curiosity, and encouragement.

Kurkova’s gown would then light up in real time based on the dominant sentiment. For instance, the flowers would turn red when tweets come with a feeling of joy.

Impressive as Emma and Karolina’s dresses were, none stole the show unlike Claire Danes. The Homeland star arrived wearing what looked like Cinderella’s fantastical blue gown, complete with glow-in-the-dark effects!

Designed by Zac Posen, the outfit was hand-sewn from organa and fiber optics, allowing it to illuminate the dark. It also contained 30 mini battery packs just to keep it lit.

In previous years, we’ve also seen other tech applications in fashion, like the parca that comes with detachable solar panels. Made by designer Pauline van Dongen for workers on the Wadden Sea Heritage Site, the coat is able to charge gadgets while people work off-grid.

Other notable creations include Nicole Scherzinger’s Twitter dress (which shows tweets in real time) and Ying Guiao’s voice-activated clothing.

These are just some of the many incredible things fashion designers are doing with technology. And if it’s a reflection of things to come, we could confidently predict that tech is going to be the new black.

Partners in crime… @georginachapmanmarchesa #MetGala #KKgoestoMetGala #MetGala2016

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Red Light District. 😉 #MetGala #KKgoestoMetGala #MetGala2016 @IBM

A photo posted by Karolina Kurkova (@karolinakurkova) on

#clairedanes #zacposen #metgala

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Magic moments!! Zacposen #metgala #clairedanes

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