For Montreal-based designer Valerie Lamontagne, the spark of creativity can come from the most unlikely of sources. In the case of her climate-reactive dresses, Lamontagne found inspiration in “Peau d’Âne,” a French fairy tale that begins with a king’s vow to remarry only when he finds a woman who equals his late queen’s beauty and virtue. Pressed to find a new wife, he concludes that his daughter alone qualifies. (Quel scandale!) The princess delays the wedding by demanding impossible prenuptial gifts, including three dresses made from moonbeams, sunlight, and the sky. Lamontagne recreates these fantastic gowns but with a high-tech twist: Each dress reacts—in real time—to changing weather conditions.
Lamontagne gamely rises to the princess’s challenge. Her floaty “Sky Dress,” made of pocketed parachute fabric, contains 14 tiny fans that are linked to a weather station. The packets of air expand and contract in response to variations in wind speed and direction.
The “Sky Dress” contains packets of air that expand and contract depending on wind speed and direction.
The “Moon Dress,” designed to reflect the “lyrical intensity of the moon,” according to Lamontagne, features 14 glowing flowers that change color according to the phase of the moon.
HAPPILY EVER AFTER
And for the princess’s third task, to create a dress as radiant as the sun, Lamontagne interlaces fabric with conductive threads that pipe electricity through a series of circuits. Reacting to fluctuations in ultraviolet and solar radiation, the 128 LEDs on the “Sun Dress” flicker on and off, mimicking the shifting intensity of the sun.
The “Sun Dress” flickers on and off according to fluctuations in ultraviolet and solar radiation.
If you’re curious about the end of the tale, the king does in fact deliver the three dresses. Under the advice of her fairy godmother, the princess asks the king to make her one final dress from the hide of a magic donkey. Under the cover of the donkey skin, the princess flees to a neighboring kingdom, where after a series of adventures, she ends up marrying its prince.