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Design Concepts: Bright, Brilliant and Bold LED Dresses

The Web is teeming with the unrealized ideas of both students and established designers who set out to produce astonishing renderings and prototypes for unusual products. Unfortunately, due to the lack of time, money, or technology, many of those products never move from the planning stages to the mass market. But that doesn't mean we can't salivate over their creations, nevertheless.

One of the best indicators of the shift from one era to the next is fashion trends, and nothing says future like tech-inspired dresses. We've seen an explosion of LED-embedded frocks hit the Internet over the past few months, and we can no longer dismiss them as mere experiments gone awry. While tech and fashion have fused in the past, we think that we will soon start to see this kind of synthesis in the mainstream. While they're no great indicators of taste, just think of the LED belt buckles that were in style a couple years back. And, on the other end of the taste spectrum, we have Hussein Chalayan's futuristic couture and Viktor and Rolf attaching floodlights to their runway models. Face it: Tech invades every facet of life, fashion being no exception.

Flare, by Stijn Ossevoort

Stijn Ossevoort's Flare dress is not the designer's first foray into LED habiliments (his Compass Coat being one example), but this is surely the most graceful of the light-up fare we've seen. Flare is sensitive to wind and even breath, so that the LED dandelions slowly alight as sensors are engaged.

OLED dress, by Gareth Pugh for PolyPhotonix

Gareth Pugh is no stranger to the avant-garde, having crafted some of the most spectacular, geometric, and frightening fashions the couture world has ever seen. Pugh teamed with PolyPhotonix to create this specimen of futuristic flora, which incorporates OLED lighting panels and low-cost solar cells.

Galaxy Dress, by Francesca Rosella and Ryan Genz

It seems like this dress received more press than Balloon Boy, but we couldn't exclude it from our roundup. Allegedly the largest wearable LED display in the world, the Galaxy Dress was created by designers Francesca Rosella and Ryan Genz from CuteCircuit, and incorporate 24,000 LEDs. No one's had a chance to wear it, though; it went straight to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

Climate dress, by Diffus

Ever want to know if you're inhaling toxic levels of carbon dioxide while attending a chic cocktail party? The Climate Dress by Danish outfit Diffus contains an Arduino Lilypad microprocessor and a CO2 monitor, which lights up LEDs through conductive embroidery depending upon air quality. Just don't smoke around it, or you'll light up like the Vegas strip.

Life dress, by Elizabeth Fuller

Perhaps the most cerebral of our designers, NYU student Elizabeth Fuller created the Life Dress as part of the 2009 ITP (Interactive Telecommunications Program) Winter Show. Basing her concept on British mathematician John Horton Conway's model The Game of Life, Fuller created the fitted dress out of dragon skin tiles, LEDs, and an Arduino microprocessor. Following Conway's algorithm, the cells are illuminated or kept dark depending on whether they are "alive" or "dead."

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