Studio XO

“One day we will wear the surface of the computer on our bodies.”          

- Nancy Tilbury, Studio XO

A bubble-blowing dress or a flying dress for Lady Gaga? Interactive costumes with colored lights that dance in sync with onstage choreography for Black Eyed Peas? A “mood” dress that changes colors according to the wearer’s emotions, or a fiber-optic one that glows like Tinkerbelle. These are a few of the creations of London-based Studio XO, where fashion and technology come together in startling ways. Founded by Nancy Tilbury and Benjamin Males, Studio XO is a collective of fashion designers, engineers and material experts all dedicated to envisioning and producing technology-powered fashion. Their enterprise pushes the parameters of both fashion and technology by combining the most creative and advanced aspects of both into wearable art for the 21st Century.

While a fashion student at The Royal College of Art in the mid 90s, Nancy Tilbury grew impatient with the application of technology to a fashion and textile industry she viewed as antiquated. Inspired by developments of the wearable computing group at MIT, she began integrating computers and fabrics as modes for expression via human interaction. Soon she became head of the wearable tech department at Phillips Electronics. Meanwhile, mechanical engineer Benjamin Males was exploring the interstices between art, science, design and technology. Tilbury and Males’ dynamic meeting and joining of forces focused their passions on the human body as the ultimate interactive field for the marvels of technology.

Among the varied and notable creations born of the XO collaboration is their XOX technology, emotional sensors that register the wearer’s psychic state. Saatchi & Saatchi has already implemented the technology in wristbands that convey emotional reactions to a show reel. Tilbury and Males see the technology as a new sphere for human connectivity and communication, which Tilbury refers to as the “ambient mapping of emotion.” Since the first take off of Lady Gaga’s flying dress, XO has teamed up with Gaga’s TechHaus enterprise, creating commissioned projects for her 2014 ARTPOP campaign. Perhaps most significantly for the masses, XO is developing a ready-to-wear clothing line for launch in 2015 called XOB. The line’s mission is to create clothes that can change shape, colour, and light depending on the wearer’s inclinations, as well as fashion’s. Potentially, this means we could digitally subscribe to wearable content and create and trade fashion playlists. We could have fewer clothes in our wardrobes, but many more options for expressing ourselves. With biotechnology morphing into digital skin, science-fiction is on the verge of becoming science fashion. Watch Studio XO’s exciting video preview of things to come.

Gaga’s Flying Dress and the Future of Fashion VIDEO: