March 10, 2016

Runway role-play becomes a luminous reality

Duality garment makers
Mark Vorreuter/Human Ecology
Eric Beaudette, left, Neal Reynolds and Lina Sanchez Botero check one of the eight technical Duality garments, days before the Cornell Fashion Collective show.
Model in LED clothes
Mark Vorreuter/Human Ecology
Elana Valastro '17 models a Duality garment that features LED lights that change colors.

Think “Game of Thrones” meets “Hunger Games.” For the annual Cornell Fashion Collective show on March 12, warriors, rangers and magicians – models draped in LED lights and electroluminescent tape – will role-play on the runway.

For the Cornell Wearable Tech team, led by fiber science student Eric Beaudette ’16 and Lina Sanchez Botero and Neal Reynolds, doctoral students in the fields of fiber science and physics, respectively, the interactive gaming themed collection – called Duality – roars to runway life, exploring real and virtual identities.

“We are showcasing interactive garments for gaming,” said Beaudette. “We’ll focus heavily on the character selection aspect of gaming, with themes of escapism and assuming a new identity in a virtual environment. Each character has a specific role and purpose.”

In addition to smart clothing bedecked with light and tape, the models get tricked out with smart weapons – like swords, bows and staves – that strobe under spells and attacks waged between the good (blue) and evil (red) characters.

“It is almost like laser tag, but with garments and new weapons,” Beaudette said.

For all eight garments, Botero, Reynolds and Beaudette have fused more than 200 LED lights, electroluminescent tape and panels to bring the clothing to lighted life – unveiling the radiant emotions of the characters on the runway. Using Wi-Fi to connect the models’ clothing to each other, the Fashion Collective audience will see clothes reacting to character emotions – and to the garments of other characters.

One character begins as an innocent daughter, but develops combat skills and a desire to avenge her late parents. Through an interactive runway battle scene, the woman’s identity is shaped from the pain of grief that engulfs her, as seen in her clothing ablaze in color, Beaudette explains.

Helping the Cornell Wearable Tech team model the garments at the Fashion Collective are Olivia Butkowski ’16, Lauren Cagnassola ’15, Jeremy Fidock ’17, Madeleine Galvin ’18, Joel Lawson ’16, Alex Quilty ’15, Emily Roehr ’16, Elana Valastro ’17. The hair and makeup stylist is Natani Notah ‘14.