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woman in a dress made from skeleton parts

Is This the Most Extravagantly Sophisticated Dress in History?


The Spider Dress is a robotic garment that imitates the movements and reactions of a spider.

The Spider Dress fuses technology and fashion in an eccentric way. Thanks to an impressive combination of robotics and biometric gadgets, the dress is able to connect to the breathing and impulses of the wearer.

Printed during 60 hours in 3D and made of pearl-colored nylon, the arachnid-style suit is the exoskeleton of a spider that is worn on the shoulders and covers the chest of the wearer, like an old suit of armor. The Spider Dress, like a spider, has limbs, in this case robotic ones, that move and interact with their exterior, but even more so with the wearer’s mood; it is capable of differentiating between 12 different types of behavior.

The suit, built on Intel Edison technology, has proximity sensors and is programmed to be aware of personal space. When a body approaches it violently, its limbs extend into an attack position, but if somebody approaches slowly and gently, the suit makes movements that invite them to come nearer; delicate and suggestive gestures in a kind of dance of seduction.

The Spider Dress also has breathing sensors that, together with the proximity sensors, allow it to sense if the wearer is stressed. The suit’s design required in-depth research into the social norms we are ruled by – specifically those relating to inter-personal space, defense and attack.

This original work is by Dutch designer Anouk Wipprecht, a creator of pieces that fuse fashion with robotics and artificial intelligence. She has designed numerous suits capable of connecting with the human body and reacting in different ways according to different stimuli. Her Synapse dress, for example, monitors cerebral waves and expresses itself with lights on an exquisitely designed breast-piece. Her dresses so resemble characters that the artist has used them in shows such as those staged by Cirque Du Soleil.

Wiprecht calls her Spider Dress “an interface between the body and the external world.” It is also a machine that expresses, in its movements and reactions, the spider’s mystery and power as a symbol of the intensely feminine energy and the representation of mortal beauty.

Beyond artifice and disguise, the suit mimics a part of the essence of animals, of their intuition, their reactions and their beauty. It also forces us to rethink the role of technology, not only at the service of humans, but as part of our bodies.


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