When Jeff told us about a month ago that we would be paired up to do a Halloween themed midterm project, I knew it was the perfect opportunity for me to self-indulge in something I’ve wanted to make for a long time: a piece of clothing that lights up. In my costumes research phase, a lot of images that came up were of superheroes. I knew immediately I wanted to use Wonder Woman’s corset as a source of inspiration:I started prepping the dress form by taking measurements and taping the center front and back lines, bust, across back, and low hip lines. These lines give me visual cues when I drape to ensure everything is level and balanced. Using the reference photo above, I then taped down style lines from the corset onto the dress form and began to drape my muslin:
I did not want to be faithful to the original costume because often where fashion is combined with technology, it is easy for it to become theatrical and kitschy. That is never the direction/association I want for my work. I want to make beautiful garments that stand on their own.
After the half muslin was complete, I placed a string of lights to the front bodice for visualization. I then unpinned the muslin and moved onto transferring the muslin to paper patterns. A friend of mine who works in the bridal industry generously supplied several yards of beautiful silk organza. In preparation, the organza is pressed with a steam iron and laid flat on fold to cut a full bodice. The patterns are placed on grain and laid out strategically to optimize fabric, then cut out to be sewn:
I made the decision to expose the seams for a more visually interesting and 3-dimensional effect.
Next is arranging the strings of lights over the bodice (1 string per panel) by applying a number of handtacks.
With the corset complete, it was time to move to programming. When I found out I got paired up with Max, I was excited with the possibility of adding a musical component to our project. I looked into the Wonder Woman theme song and learned that the composition evokes power because it uses the same progression of notes and technique of dissonance to resolution as Robert Plant’s iconic opening wail in the Immigrant Song. More analysis in this video:
I pitched this to Max and we decided to sync each tone to a panel of lights, and have all the panels light up on the fifth note. I soldered extension wires to the cathode/anodes of the lights and we cobbled together some code to test the light and sounds: