In Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam's novel The Eve of the Future, a fictionalised Thomas Edison figure creates via electricity, desire, photography, clairvoyance and magnetism an ideal woman.
Called Hadaly, this electrical and magical being possesses a pair of lungs made with two golden phonographs through which metal sheets of recorded speech pass.
Being mechanical Hadaly features in her body hard organs that bear little resemblance to those of a human being, but she is threaded with brilliant wires that imitate nerves, arteries and veins, while being set in motion by an electro-magnetic motor.
Though Hadaly is a mechanical monster, Edison does not think he is playing at being God by creating her.
"Since our gods and our hopes are no longer anything but scientific," he states in the book, "why should our loves not be scientific too? Instead of the Eve of the forgotten legend, the legend science finds suspect, I am giving you a Scientific Eve."
The dichotomy between the mechanical and the human body inspired Laura Theiss's Autumn/Winter 2016/17 collection.
Entitled "ReflEctiVE", Theiss' new collection includes wool, cotton, cashmere, lace and organza, crocheted and knitted interpretations of anatomical features and body parts borrowed from early automata and futuristic androids.
Hadaly's body was a sort of armor that called to mind the metallic limbs of Thomas Edison's talking dolls from the late 1890s, rather imperfect and faulty toys that - it is believed - Edison himself eventually decided to destroy.
More recent interpretations of futuristic beings include Ava, the android out of Alex Garland's dystopian sci-fi film Ex Machina, gifted with a flexible yet sensual body characterised by a semi-transparent texture.
Theiss looked at all these inspirations and at anatomy in general to create crocheted elements imitating the abstract shapes of human cells, and crocheted fractals directly inspired by the fractal properties of internal human organs, while she also transformed the structure of the DNA double helix into knitted cables.
The main collection palette was borrowed from skin tones and includes soft nude and powdery pink nuances combined with strong shades of titanium, black, navy blue (almost a reference to the blue silk dress in Hadaly's trousseau...) and dove gray.
The same dichotomy characterises the choice of yarns for this collection that includes natural ones such as soft wool, delicate cotton and luxurious cashmere, mixed with metallic elements.
A coating of metallic foil on cardigans and dresses and metallic second skin-like mesh fractals reference the body of early automata.
The romantic and feminine side of the human and android body is explored via cascades of floral crocheted elements at times reworked with cutting-edge processes devised with Italian high-tech company Bond Factory.
Theiss transformed a DNA helix into a digital template and then thermowelded it with aluminum and holographic foil or light reflective materials on organza and wool.
These techniques allow a pattern to shine in the dark almost by magic, highlighting the motifs on the dresses and protecting the identity of the wearer.
Laser cut designs featuring techniques like thermowelding, taping and embossing or integrating knitted cashmere bonded with tulle could be considered as representations of a body that can radically mutate via prosthetic parts.
Laura Theiss's A/W 2016-17 collection is woman's journey through medical sciences, internal biological structures and functions, anatomy archives and future technologies.
Through her designs Theiss reminds us that, just like in science, there is no boundary in arts such as crocheting and knitting, and no limits to where fashion can take you, while her applications of new technologies to knitwear echo the third law conceived by science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, stating "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
Image credits for this post
All images in this post courtesy of Laura Theiss.
Photographer: Rama Lee
Styling and Creative Direction: My Name is Kabir @ www.mynameiskabir.com
Model: Vick @ Profile
Make-Up: Michelle Webb
Hair: Kiyoko Odo
Assistants: Gabriella Natoli, Siyu Fan, Alexia Planas
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