Every first Monday in May, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (aka the Met) hosts a red carpet event that attracts the world’s biggest stars, wearing the latest gowns from the world of high fashion. Last night’s Met Gala was themed, Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology, inspiring IBM and fashion house Marchesa to create a literal link between “man and machine.” The IBM dress is covered in LED lights that change color based on the emotional tone of Twitter users discussing it.
Craig and Chapman, the designers behind Marchesa, fed more than 150 images of their dresses and more than 100 red carpet photos into IBM’s Watson Color Theory Tool, which helped them pick the most appropriate colors to simulate audience emotions. Using the Tone Analyzer API to detect emotional tone of tweets about their dress throughout the evening, the Watson Color Theory Tool changed the color of the dress based on what people were saying.
The IBM dress was modeled by Karolina Kurkova, who encouraged her Twitter followers to interact with her gown throughout the night.
— Karolina Kurkova (@karolinakurkova) May 2, 2016
“This is an opportunity to show how technology can help us push the boundaries of creativity and have an interactive dress that’s a piece of art and a conversational piece as well—something that’s almost living and breathing,” says designer, Georgina Chapman. “And to us, that was just a magical idea.”
The IBM Cognitive Couture gown is the first of its kind to be worn at the Met Gala, although not the first dress to incorporate real-time Twitter reactions. In 2012, CuteCircuit debuted their Twitter Dress, worn by Nicole Scherzinger at the launch event at Battersea Power Station in London. Rather than change color, Scherzinger’s gown scrolled real-time Twitter posts across the fabric whenever someone used their designated hashtag.
As the market of wearable technology continues to gain popularity, brands are finding new ways to connect with their audiences.
“It’s a partnership between man and machine,” says Jeffrey Arn, IBM Watson strategist. “What cognitive means for fashion, unlocking new considerations and sharing expertise, breaks us out of our bias. There are implications all across the industry.”