Katy Perry Was Our Guiding Light at the Met Ball

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Published May 10, 2010

What can we expect from Katy Perry if not a cheeky spectacle tinted with controversy? At last week’s MET Ball, the singer flaunted a boudoir-esque gown with a slit up to here and stripes of flashing LED lights. Sure, the dress was a far cry from the de la Rentas, Marchesas and Lanvins donned by more conventional guests, but for CuteCircuit, the label behind the blinding look, Perry’s gown was nothing out of the ordinary.

Founded in 2004 by Ryan Genz, an anthropologist from Maine, and Francesca Rosella, a former member of the Valentino design team, London-based CuteCircuit produces what its designers describe as “fashionable, wearable technology.” What does that mean, exactly? Well, in 2006, the design duo invented the Hug Shirt, a garment filled with carefully placed micro-censors that allow wearers to transfer squeezing sensations from one shirt to another via Bluetooth. Their Kinetic Dress, a black gothic-style evening gown, changes color and lights up as the wearer moves, and the Galaxy Dress (pictured left), a floor-length gown that glows with 24,000 LED lights, was inducted into the permanent collection of Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry in 2009.

“It’s the future, but it’s happening now!” says Rosella of CuteCircuit’s interactive looks and micro-technologies. “If you think about fashion compared to other fields, it’s one of the few areas that hasn’t really innovated much in the past, and I think it’s about time for a bit more experimentation.” The designers’ latest endeavor, which will be available for purchase on CuteCircuit’s website starting this week, is the Twinkle Collection: a ready-to-wear line that features graphic Swarovski-embellished T-shirts, mini dresses and jackets. “It’s the love child of the Galaxy dress and the Kinetic Dress,” explains Rosella. Combining advanced micro LED’s (Rosella boasts that, “they’re as flat as paper and as tiny as a pin!”) and movement censors, the looks will light up and change color depending on one’s movement and mood. The designers insist that line is surprisingly wearable, and even comfortable. “We integrate our micro technologies into the fabric in a very special way that allows the garment to remain very soft, stretchable and also washable. We’ve worked years to develop this material and we wanted to make sure that you could treat it like normal clothing.” To call electro-garb “normal” might be a stretch, but if Perry’s gown was any indication, CuteCircuit’s futuristic creations will steal—or rather, become—the spotlight.