As a lower-powered alternative to conventional lightbulbs, LEDs have lately emerged from the stuff of blinking signs into many aspects of our daily lives. Times Square and Las Vegas are already famous for their flashing, colorful LED billboards, but lately we’ve been noticing a few NYC buses and subway entrances festooned with LED advertisements. As fashion channels developments in the world around us, it is no surprise that designers have been adapting this technology into their collections.
Hussein Chalayan tried it first, creating seemingly magical LED-lit dresses for his fall 2007 collection, and now, the Galaxy Dress, a new project from London-based smart textile company CuteCircuit, sparkles with more than 24,000 LEDs and 4,000 hand-applied Swarovski crystals. Its circuitry is hand embroidered on a layer of silk, creating a soft, fluid fabric. Although this dress is lightweight, ironically, the heaviest part is not the lights, but rather the 40-layer pleated silk organza crinoline.
The Galaxy Dress is still in its prototype stages, but demonstrates how clothing can create new forms of communication as technology pushes fashion into unmarked territories. Although it may not yet seem realistic to wear LED lit shirts or dresses as an everyday look, current developments like headphone wiring in snowboard jackets and solar-paneled laptop bags might have seemed crazy a few years ago, too!