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Stylish and Smart

High-tech is about envisioning the future; haute couture is about living in the moment. And techies don’t go to fashion shows. Well, the Fashion Fusion Award put paid to both of those fictions. In
 August, Deutsche Telekom and partner companies launched a global competition in a bid to keep in step with the future. Of course no-one knows what the future will bring, but many experts believe technology will pervade every aspect of our day-to-day lives, including the clothing we wear.

‘Fashion Fusion by Deutsche Telekom’ is a forum for creative new ideas at the intersection of high-tech and fashion. Twelve teams were selected and given three months to put their ideas into practice, with the best to be honored at a big award show held during Berlin’s Fall/Winter Fashion Week. When Commandante Berlin GmbH asked us to provide lighting and AV for the show at short notice, we were delighted to answer the agency’s call. After all, that place where creative ideas and technology meet is where we live. And it took a little creativity and lot of hustle to get the technology into this venue. The narrow brick arches of the Sophiensäle, a historical building complex that’s now a theater and art house, are venerable, but impassable for trucks. A section of Sophienstraße would have to be cordoned off to unload the equipment. That’s a headache in busy Berlin Mitte, where locals do not take kindly to haulage crews moving at a glacial pace. Ten helpers joined in to carry the gear over the cobblestones on the double, with traffic resuming as soon as the payload was in the courtyard. The crew erected a classic set with a catwalk to ensure the designs, and not the stage and props, were the main attraction.

The floodlights and illuminated stage’s magenta lighting was a visual nod to the award logo’s color and Telekom’s corporate identity. It was the perfect showcase for designers to present their creations to 250 invited guests and the assembled press. The designs lived up to the promise implicit in the term ‘smart clothes,’ as the first prize-winning Trainwear by Gernot Bahle, Bo Zhou and Lorenzo Fürg attests. This outfit is actually a virtual personal coach that detects if its wearer is performing exercises correctly, and provides guidance and feedback. We’ll never know if this ashion could have improved the crew’s posture and performance when hauling cables and lamps over cobbled streets, but the idea is certainly smart. Second prize went to TankThunderbird’s Mimeme, a type of virtual wear that requires augmented reality devices to be seen. It sounds like a gamer’s dream come true, but this technology has great potential for real-world applications. Third prize went to TranSwarm Entities for a mix of fringe fashion and performance art incorporating drones, a wildly imaginative outfit that favored artistry over value-adding tech. After all the computer geeks and fashion freaks had decamped to plunge headlong into Berlin’s nightlife, we also set off on our merry way. Our tech wasn’t quite inside our clothes, but we did have to hug it pretty close to squeeze through those archways.

Photos: Bela Mulzer

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