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Fashion With A Brain? Behold Ying Gao's Interactive Creations

The Chinese-born fashion designer creates clothes that react to light, sound, even a passing glance. What would Lady Gaga think?

Ying Gao's photo-luminescent dresses
Ying Gao's photo-luminescent dresses
Julie Conti

GENEVA — In the rarefied world of high fashion, she has made her mark designing "interactive" clothes. Yes...a blast, a sound, a flash or even just a look can make her creations suddenly light up or start to move.

When a spectator looks at Ying Gao's two photo-luminescent dresses called "(No) where (now) here," for example, the dresses suddenly contract and move thanks to inflatable sensors and motors.

"I don't know if people are singled out for good reasons. But surely the technological aspect is what intrigues," she sighs.

More than anything, the Chinese-born fashion designer, who divides her time between Geneva and Montreal, is afraid of being misunderstood. That's exactly what happened when she presented one of her creations called "Playtime," a dress that features scattered lights that are activated by camera flashes, which can foil attempts at photographing the woman who might be wearing it. It is a tribute to Jacques Tati's movie "Playtime" in which the filmmaker uses trompe-l'oeil effects and reflections. Thus Yiang Gao wasn't pleased when journalists dubbed her creation "anti-paparazzi" fashion.

"It sounded terrible," she says. "A misunderstood object represents the death of the concept and it kills the desire to experiment."

A Lady Gaga nightmare

Her nightmare would be to see Lady Gaga wearing one of her dresses on a red carpet. Therefore, she refuses, for the moment, to produce a limited edition of her creations. "I prefer to see it in museums for now, so they maintain an experimental character. It is just the beginning for interactive clothes, and I need to wait for the field to mature."

Ying Gao's dream is to create self-thinking interactive clothes, and she has been testing a device for more than a year that can transform dresses by water movements.

On the technical side, the designer has collaborated for more than a decade with Simon Laroche, an artist who works with robotics. They have begun using 3D-printers, which allow them to develop unique and miniaturized pieces and motors. She hopes her clothes can someday make everyone reflect on appearances. They already make us dream.

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Society

Jehovah's Witnesses Translate The Bible In Indigenous Language — Is This Colonialism?

The Jehovah's Witnesses in Chile have launched a Bible version translated into the native Mapudungun language, evidently indifferent to the concerns of a nation striving to save its identity from the Western cultural juggernaut.

A Mapuche family awaits for Chilean President Gabriel Boric to arrive at the traditional Te Deum in the Cathedral of Santiago, on Chile's Independence Day.

Claudia Andrade

NEUQUÉN — The Bible can now be read in Mapuzugun, the language of the Mapuche, an ancestral nation living across Chile and Argentina. It took the Chilean branch of the Jehovah's Witnesses, a latter-day Protestant church often associated with door-to-door proselytizing and cold calling, three years to translate it into "21st-century Mapuzugun".

The church's Mapuche members in Chile welcomed the book when it was launched in Santiago last June, but some of their brethren see it rather as a cultural imposition. The Mapuche were historically a fighting nation, and fiercely resisted both the Spanish conquerors and subsequent waves of European settlers. They are still fighting for land rights in Chile.

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