Ying Gao at The Textile Museum Of Canada

July 17, 2014

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Effortless, weightless, other-wordly, and sometimes so intricate they look simple. Those are a few things that strike me about Ying Gao‘s fashions.

I remember seeing this article on Design Milk about Ying Gao’s interactive dresses last summer and being stunned – dresses with eye tracking technology that move in response to your gaze?! So delicate, so unassuming, yet they acknowledge and move in response to you. Gao is a Canadian fashion designer and professor who works worldwide, and I was excited to be able to experience her work first hand at this exhibit in my very own Toronto. I’ve linked to places you can read about her work in more eloquent terms, and her Instagram is a pretty interesting account of her work and aesthetic.

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Garments from the Science is Fiction collection – made from medical-grade latex with the hospital waiting room in mind. Since there are so few seams in these pieces, I found it most interesting to see where they were placed and how the chosen fabric influence their drape.

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This pocket, for instance, is really neat. I like the unfinished edges and the placement of the stitching around the pocket.

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Above is a snap of one of the pieces from her 2012 collection Les nébuleuses, made from super organza. As the name would suggestion, it’s inspired by interstellar clouds of gas and dust, the pieces themselves translucent and seemingly weightless.

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OK this was neat, an interactive collection called Playtime, that reacted to the flash of a camera. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, I mean how much can such seemingly translucent clothes do? Man. The garment on the right emitted a growing light and the one of the left actually starting moving and shifting. Moving smoothly too, like grass moving in a breeze. Unreal!

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Here are two more interactive garments, Living Pod, made from leather and super organza that come alive when hit with a light source (here, flashlight). I think what struck me most about these coats, as with the Playtime collection, is how stunning these garments are. They are not heavy, obvious, synthetic looking, or any other assumption I had about interactive fashion. They’re unassuming, then in the flick of a light they’re alive and breathing.

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I tried to catch a picture of this coat in action – see how it expands on the right? Really as though it’s breathing.

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This coat moved so beautifully and effortlessly. Each section twisted, changed shape and sort of flowed together like ripples in a pond. Electronics aside, I really love the material choice here. Leather, usually heavy and structured, looks soft, complemented by the organza.

Fashioning the Intangible: the conceptual clothing of Ying Gao is on at the Texile Museum of Canada until September 1, 2014.

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