Your eyes do deceive you—the sumptuous iridescent hue on this dress is purely a trick of the light. Sydney designer Donna Sgro fashioned the frock from Morphotex, a nanotechnology-based, structurally colored fiber that mimics the microscopic structure of the Morpho butterfly’s wings, which despite lacking color, appear a shimmery cobalt. Manufactured by Teijin in Japan, Morphotex requires no dyes or pigments, nor the prodigious amount of water and energy used in conventional dyeing.
Found in the rainforests of South America, the Morpho is one of the largest butterflies in the world, with wings that span five to eight inches. The vivid color on the upper surface of their wings—the underside is a drab spotted brown—is the result of microscopic, overlapping scales that sync up certain wavelengths of light while canceling out others.
Morphotex relies on fiber structure and physical phenomena such as light reflection to create its color.
Morphotex cribs from Ma Nature herself, relying on fiber structure and physical phenomena such as light reflection, interference, refraction, and scattering to produce its opalescence. The fabric comprises roughly 60 polyester and nylon fibers, arranged in alternating layers that can be varied in thickness to produce four basic colors: red, green, blue, and violet.