Optimus Prime, it isn’t, but Montréal-based designer Ying Gao seems to have been inspired by the Hasbro cartoon and now movie, Transformers, for her latest collection ‘Living Pod’. Not happy with the natural movement of her exquisite designs, Gao has ‘souped-up’ her dresses with electronic motors that give them a life of their own when worn.

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While her work seems simple and tailored at first glance, pneumatic pistons and pumps are cleverly concealed beneath, to bring her clothing to life. Just imagine if Rosie Huntington-Whiteley had these on in the latest Transformers movie, the Autobots would have had an extra weapon at their disposal.


Based on specific triggers of movement, wind and touch, each item moves in it’s own way, expanding, contracting and articulating in a way rarely seen in clothing.

Ying Gao’s project proposed an in-depth study on the garment’s adjustable structure and the integration of interactive technologies into the garment. This formed a creative framework in which devices became components of garments intended for performing arts from which the technology would be transferable to the ready-to-wear industry. The late, great Alexander McQueen famously used robots on his catwalk to spray paint over his models, but Gao uses technology to transform the subject into its own robotic form.

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The collection includes a dress that contains light sensors that activate tiny electric motors sewn into the fabric folds, allowing it to curl and unfurl in reaction to light. In another piece, ruffles copy and exaggerate movement, spilling out from a slash in a leather coat

If you were ever the kid who donned a superhero costume pretending to be Catwoman, Wonder Woman, the Bionic Woman or even Super Gran, then this is surely the adult version for you.

Ying Gao: Art, Fashion & Technology is on show at the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec, Canada until 28 August 2011.