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Wearable Technology: Pauline van Dongen


Candice Martini

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — The complexity and fascinating nature of the human body is the true basis of fashion design; yet, the strong influence that natural sciences including biology, physics and chemistry have on the aesthetics of clothing is often underestimated. Pauline van Dongen’s inquisitive talent reminds us that fashion and wearable technology can go way beyond what the eye can see.

Pauline van Dongen: Fashion Designer and Innovator

Pauline van Dongen is not only a fashion designer and innovator; she describes herself as a researcher that has a scientific approach towards the creation and use of materials. The fascination for the human body and the space in which it moves led Pauline to research the body in a technologically textured space and to found her own label in 2010.

“In my womenswear collections the garment is constructed with an aesthetic of technology and its sculptural contour is the reflection of our techno-morphed habitat. To me, this is the only way to move forward and to be really innovative, explains the Academy of the Arts in Arnhem graduate.”

Wearable technology | Pauline van Dongen | TEDxMaastricht

Pauline van Dongen: Morphogenesis Shoe Collection

Pauline has created a number of original and innovative collections, with inspirations ranging from body language and abstract shapes to the way in which light creates spatial dimensions (stereopsis). One of our top favourites is her Morphogenesis shoe collection, which Pauline developed in collaboration with Dutch company Freedom of Creation and features the technique of 3D printing in a groundbreaking style.

“Morphogenesis is about the origin of shape. As I was researching the space surrounding the body, I started exploring the space between the body and the garment; the void as I call it”, Pauline explains.

Different materials like synthetic crin and buntal emphasise this space and, through 3D printing, Morphogenesis translates the sculptural feel of the garments into a rigid form of polyamide. “3D printing allowed me to create almost without any borders!…To me, this is the technique of the future”.

Wearable Technology: Pauline van Dongen
Pauline van Dongen – ‘Morphogenesis’ 3D printed shoes. Photography: Mike Nicolaassen

Fashion and Technology: The Way Forward

The tangible integration of technology into garments (wearable technology) that Pauline van Dongen’s work displays is a timely development as more and more designers become eager to learn about new developments and proposals for the future.

“Fashion is all about the new, but over the past decades the industry has been largely static. In order to achieve innovation in fashion it is essential to connect different industries and fields of expertise”, continues Pauline, who is currently working on collaborations with companies from the field of science and technology, as well as on her new womenswear collections.

One of Pauline’s most recent projects is ‘Wearable Solar’, which involves the use of flexible solar cells in fashion. She created two prototypes, a coat and a dress, which are augmented with small solar panels and thereby transform the wearer into an energy source. Without a doubt, such ideas make of fashion design not just an aesthetic art but also a sustainable tool that creates awareness of the opportunities that natural resources can offer us.

Wearable Technology: Pauline van Dongen
Pauline van Dongen, ‘Wearable Solar project’ – solar coat

This is certainly only the beginning for Pauline’s successful career. This autumn she will be starting her postgraduate studies and her 4-year research will focus on fashion and technology. This is quite an achievement given that Pauline will be the first fashion designer in the Netherlands to be offered the highest academic award of a PhD.

Pauline van Dongen aims to merge fashion and technology while breathing life into scientific creations. She is the quintessential example that while fashion trends may come and go the growing awareness of our technological surroundings is the only way forward. It’s been scientifically proven!

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