For the 2016 Met Gala, the theme was Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology. While beautifully amazing fashions graced the event, one in particular stood out. Designed by Marchesa in conjunction with IBM, this cognitive fashion represented technology’s real-time impact on fashion. The dress uses Watson artificial intelligence technology, which is a technology platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data.
Here’s how it worked. The Marchesa design team selected five emotions that they wanted the dress to convey- joy, passion, excitement, encouragement and curiosity. The IBM research team then fed this data into a cognitive color design tool to come up with colors that were aligned with the emotions. IBM then turned to software company Inno360 to source a fabric for the dress, which uses LED technology to change colors. The fabrics chosen were sheer and light to allow them to react well to color reflection. The dress incorporated 150 LED flowers.
Throughout the event, the dress changed color based on what people were saying on Twitter relating to the event. As Watson’s analysis of the tweets detected the various emotions, it changed the color of the dress to reflect.
While typically this sort of data is not seen, the collaboration between IBM and Marchesa reflects the potential between human and machine. It shows how technology can push the limits of creativity and emotional engagement in fashion and beyond.