We’ve seen the future: Don’t get dressed, get sprayed!
Bella Hadid enjoying the aerosol droplets
It is for sure a moment for history. The last look of the Coperni show yesterday saw Bella Hadid emerges in nothing but a thonged panty and a pair of heels, her right arm covering her breasts. She steps on to a low platform, and designers Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant—hands with equipment very much similar to a spray gun used in spray painting—begin spraying the model. The sprayers dispel a white foamy liquid that quickly cover her body in opaque white (Ms Hadid slowly removes her arms as one breast is covered and then another). Those old enough would remember this as ‘airbrushing’. Very soon a semblance of a garment could be discerned. The body-con (naturally!) dress took about seven minutes to complete or about the time it takes to cook hard-boiled eggs. Talk about fast fashion!
When the spraying stops, an assistant takes over to finish the dress. She shapes the straps by rolling the edges inwards, like you might with pastry made with thin batter, such as zhuchangfen (猪肠粉 or rice noodle rolls). She then pulls the straps down the arms to create an off-shoulder upper. She moves to the front and kneels to trim the randomly-formed hem around Ms Hadid’s calves. She takes a scissors and cuts a slit on the right side, at the front of the leg. She loosens the fabric adhered to Ms Hadid’s limbs. She opens up the slit and, voila, the dress is complete. A dress as basic as it comes. There was uproarious applause. Ms Hadid steps off the platform and struts for the appreciative audience in her new spray-on dress.
Finishing the sprayed-on dress
Bella Hadid posing in the completed dress
For many, this moment is reminiscent of what the late Alexander McQueen offered during his spring/summer 1999 show—his thirteenth at the time. Shalom Harlow, then the subject of the public experiment, stepped out in a white, strapless dress with an outer skirt over a tutu, and stood on a turntable between two robotic arms. After the pair of identical mechanical limbs flailed somewhat threateningly, they spray-painted her dress, one shot out yellow dye, the other black. Ms Harlow moved as if in orgiastic delight. She continued to spin, the audience were delirious. This was technology meets fashion as high art, witnessed live, no streaming required; a moment conceived to be deeply indelible.
Fast forward to the present PFW, the Coperni spectacle seems less hi-tech, with the robotic arms swapped for human ones. The spray exercise is more in line with McQueen’s focus that season: the Arts and Craft movement (with a technology component). Coperni worked with the Spanish textile-tech company Fabrican, founded by fashion designer and scientist Manel Torres. Vogue Business reported that the liquid used is a polymer solution that contains cotton and synthetic fibres. The fluid evaporates when it touches the skin, leaving the fibres behind, which, presumably, dries quickly. If we can 3D-print our own accessories now, will it be a matter of time when we can spray on a dress after we step out of the bath? Will getting dressed be an archaic idea? We shudder.
Screen shots: BabyGhoulYT/YouTube