Pixelated Body

Work published in DesignBoom

This project is for my ID & Apparel course IN ON AROUND AND BETWEEN, which explore the space and interaction in, on around the body and in between.

insipirationScreen Shot 2015-04-16 at 12.22.09 AMMy project started with the discussion on how technology enlarged our daily vocabulary. Words like pixel and voxel are now taken out of their original context and made their way to other aspects of our lives, like fashion–techno eccentric, is the formal name apparently.

I can’t say I like or dislike this fashion trend, but the idea of bring technology aesthetic into fashion, and explore the 2D and 3D transformation reminded me of cubism, and modernism in general in the early 20s. I thought I should contribute my take on it.

This general idea provided me with helpful restriction of square modular piece and it’s pixel-like aesthetic. I cut Bristol Board and try to figure out a way that works with the body. From some explorations and sketches I came up with the idea that making making a shoulder piece that not only consist of square modular pieces but also transformable to a totally different aesthetics.

Photo Apr 07, 4 37 38 PMPhoto Apr 07, 4 37 54 PMI also picked out the idea material–vegetable tanned leather, which has great formability to create the square and hold the hardware in order to transform, but also is a traditional apparel material which complete the link from pixels to the body.

This sample piece I made is consist of 8 leather square, each of which has its four corners folded up at a right angle. I connected them with rivets in the center of each folded triangle which allows them to move around. I also use the detachable button that allows me to reconfigure the piece at a greater level to create totally different aesthetic: _BAI4322 _BAI4323 _BAI4324 _BAI4325 _BAI4326 _BAI4329 _BAI4331 _BAI4332

From here I started planning my shoulder piece. I changed a few details for a better illustration of the connection of pixel/voxel aesthetics and modular transformation to break through it. The individual pieces now have three variation: all four cornered folded at a right angle like before, and only three and two folded, to ensure a sharp transition when change of planes. The practice piece I made was molded using a square gig but since the real work needs more than 80 pieces (about 89) I have to think of a way to form them all together without gigs. I ended up folding the soaked leather pieces (after taking the bath for a whole day) using a ruler first, and place them side by side so the natural spring-back of each piece can keep them relatively straight. I had to hand adjust a few of them throughout the two day drying process, but they came out great. Firm, stable and quite accurate. I cut each piece by hand, because I don’t want the laser-cutted burned edge and the horrible smell. Another major change is I now fold the leather piece flesh side in, to echo the natural form of leather, but more importantly, the bigger variation of the leather side give it more of a pixelated feel–you will see what I mean.

Hand-cut 80+ 3 inch by 3 inch square:_BAI4338Hand sanded and punched all the holes and let them all take a nice long bath for a day.
_BAI4350 Folded by ruler and set next to each other to ensure a straight edge while drying:_BAI4352Took days to be completely dry:
R0003116 The pixelated image is therefore delivered by skin toned leather squares.R0003119Assemble:Photo Apr 15, 9 18 37 PMTesting:Photo Apr 15, 10 17 46 PMFrom this prototype and muslin crit I had with my advisors, I decided to remove the different folding methods, which was meant to make a sharper plane transition, but the crown shaped look is distracting. A more uniformed pixelated look might be more suitable for my project.

Fitting on the model form:
Photo Apr 20, 2 30 57 PM Photo Apr 20, 4 22 03 PMFound my perfect model Carmen and had my first fitting with her:R0003120continue working on the form, and thinking about a maxi skirt would compliment the boxy cropped top:

My teacher and I thought about using digital printed fabric as the skirt pattern. However it might weight down the outfit and distract audience from the focus point of my project.

Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 1.40.46 PMinstead, a skin toned maxi skirt as a undergarment would be more appropriate.
Photo Apr 23, 4 23 00 PM

Second fitting:

Photo Apr 24, 4 15 32 PM Photo Apr 24, 4 15 44 PM Photo Apr 24, 4 16 06 PM Photo Apr 24, 4 16 16 PM

Photo Apr 23, 4 22 43 PMThe only thing I found might work is the fabric on the left of the right picture (sorry about this terrible direction). The wrong side of the fabric is actually what I will use as the right side since it’s matte and has the perfect blend of yellow and pink tone. The other side is the faux silk sheeny finish which would be distracting if I use it as my undergarment. swatchPhoto Apr 27, 2 24 11 PMPhoto Apr 27, 3 03 26 PMModel’s first fitting of the mock up dress:skirtfitting2 inch square cutouts:

I don’t want any stitches on the surface so I’m thinking double sided lining tape or fabric glue?Photo Apr 27, 6 03 57 PMUm…ok, silly me. Liquid fabric and tape turn out to be a big no no in the apparel world. I went on exploring different ways to make the cutouts look nice and sharp without any visible stitching. 
IMG_5554 And the fabric (100%polyester) was extremely hard to work with as the fabric for the skirt. I had to put tracing paper both on top and bottom to protect it from breaking, and I had to extremely careful about the temperature that I’m ironing it with.IMG_5553

I did another round of fitting with my beautiful model Carmen. The skit fits perfectly but as she walks out I’m immediately drawn to the skirt and its cutouts, which is not supposed to happen because the focal point should be her leather cape!
IMG_5556My teacher suggested that I should put a flap on her waist line with cutouts that create shadow on her skirt. This way I still making the connect but I won’t be drawing too much attention to the cutouts. I love this idea.IMG_5559Also, I did two types of seams to solve the wrinkle problem I had with the prototype.

Front:Photo Apr 30, 2 12 39 PM Back:Photo Apr 30, 2 12 58 PM_BAI4429 _BAI4430Apparently the one on the back gives me a much cleaner and smoother finish, so that’s what I’m going to use for the final.

_BAI4398 _BAI4401 _BAI4407 _BAI4409 _BAI4411 _BAI4415 _BAI4418 _BAI4421 _BAI4424Last but not least, there are endless possibility to explore the pixelated body element in modern fashion.otheroutfits

_99C4088 _99C4091 _99C4094 _99C4100 _99C4102 _99C4107 _99C4113 _99C4117 _99C4118 _99C4119 _99C4125 _99C4127 _99C4134

I would like to thank the following people who helped me on various stages of this project.


Catherine Andreozzi http://www.risd.edu/academics/apparel-design/faculty/Catherine-Andreozzi/

Brian Kane http://briankane.net/

Hair & Makeup by Sara Bdeir  http://www.sarabdeir.com

_BAI4435 _BAI4444Final Photoshoot by Matt Francis http://www.mattfrancisphotos.com/_BAI4451 _BAI4456

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