Melding the past with the present, Amy Winters' recent collection for AW '11 projects a contemporary spin to "smart" fashion. According to Ms Winters, high-tech and "smart" clothes need not to be stitched with a "a futuristic, technical and andronyous spin." Instead, Winters' places what others may deem to be "futuristic fashion" in a contemporary context.
In doing so, Winters' creates a collection that is wearable, and more importantly, available today in boutiques in London, Tokyo and Hong-Kong. Her new AW'11 collection consists of gorgeous color and pattern shifting skirts, dresses, scarves and coats.
In addition, Winters designed a "showpiece" — The Picasso Explosion — a spectacular sound reactive dress created with animated electroluminescent panels with morphing lines and shapes.
I recently caught up with Ms. Winters to discuss her fantastic new collection. Enjoy the interview below.
Orange Mondrian Coat. Hand-printed squares change colour in sunlight/UV light from white into light blue.
Your Autumn/Winter 11 collection pays homage to Yves Saint Laurent’s 1965 Piet Mondrian collection and 20th century modernist artists such as Picasso and Kandinsky. Why look to the past to design such forward-looking fashions today? Is this collection about retro-futurism? Do you even consider your work to be futuristic?
I find that a lot of ‘smart-wearables’ today are designed with a futuristic, technical and andronyous spin which I find a bit clinical and over-serious. I think this can be a massive turn-off for the general public on what is actually a really exciting new medium.
My primary aim is to create something beautiful; technology should be that extra special ingredient but not the sole focus.
My work is not about retro-futurism and I don’t consider my work to be futuristic although it has been described by many people like this. I love the 1960s and 70s, sports-wear, colour, and high-drama! Combining an emotional, nostalgic and dreamy vibe with the garment’s shapes and photography and then teaming this with fabrics which have magical qualities (changing colour, responding to sound) is interesting for me.
My primary aim is to create something beautiful; technology should be that extra special ingredient but not the sole focus. I want to explore the expressive capabilities of emerging technologies and give them a new outlet.
Picasso Explosion Sculpture-Dress. Neoprene tube dress with sculptured electroluminescent panels made of mirrored side panels.
For this collection you also created Picasso Explosion, a sound-reactive dress that changes luminosity in accordance to volume. What inspired and motivated you to create this garment?
My aim was to create a stunning visual experience for the audience, where the audience can interact, speak, clap and sing to the dress whilst watching it change.
This showpiece was inspired by paintings and sculptures which are created purely from light. I took inspiration especially from Cubist sculpture and geometrical light-blocking to create a garment which would serve as an interactive human light sculpture.
I took inspiration especially from Cubist sculpture and geometrical light-blocking to create a garment which would serve as an interactive human light sculpture.
Inside the electroluminescent panels are three-dimensional patterns and with a sound-sensor they animate according to volume. I wanted to combine a three-dimensional pattern within a three-dimensional structure.
You seem to use technology and smart materials (colour changing inks) more as an expressive and performative medium than as a functional one. What role do you see technology playing in your work? How do you see your techno-palette, if you will, evolving over time?
Technology is like an extended paintbrush; scientists are perfectionists and like to make their work brighter, stronger, and faster. I work with technology as an artist. Sometimes we don’t need something super high-tech or only for a functional purpose. We can find new applications and rework existing technologies in an aesthetic way.
My main focus in the future is to develop my work commercially. I would like to continue using light and water reactive inks in my commercial collections and would also love to bridge that gap between techno-fashion being purely a prototype and exhibition piece to something which can be mainstream.
I would also like to experiment with my ‘techno palette’ with sensors and combine this with colour-theory. Transformations, in nature whether it is with the weather, human emotions or even animals morphing into other creatures all can be mimicked and experimented with in unusual ways through the medium of technology.
Mondrian Grecian Maxi-Dress
Do you wear your own garments?
Both! I love wearing my own ready-to-wear pieces and they are currently stocked in boutiques in London, Tokyo and Hong-Kong. The showpieces I design for the stage though rather than as an every-day garment.
When using new materials, I approach concepts with an open mind and with playful and childlike curiosity. Mistakes and experiments often lead to the best ideas.
What ideas are you interested in exploring next?
My work is primarily about change, response and process and colour is also a strong theme throughout. I would like to play with various external inputs (in terms of the environment, sound, colour, and atmosphere) and experiment with their textile outputs to create dramatic costumes for the stage and music videos.
I would also like to explore texture; textures which changes depending on mood, a fabric which turns soft when you want to be comfortable and then turns a different texture when you need energising.
When using new materials I approach concepts with an open mind and with playful and childlike curiosity, mistakes and experiments often lead to the best ideas.
Business-wise, the ready-to-wear side will continue to grow as I exhibit in Paris later this year at Paris Fashion Week and I’m working on a childrenswear line ‘Mini-Rainbow’, which will launch soon. www.minirainbow.com
Best of luck Amy! Looking forward to seeing future collections.