Fall for This Dress That Drops Leaves #WearableWednesday

I discovered Birce Özkan last year, and it was so exciting to see her final thesis posted for Parsons The New School for Design this past week. You may recall my other post where she was experimenting with a similar dress design with falling leaves. Fall represents the 2.0 version, complete with an added light sensor so the leaves have a motivation for the season. That’s what I call nailing biomimicry.


Birce’s new dress has a beautiful gradient of colors to represent the appropriate season. I asked her about the fabric, as I know it is difficult to find the same fabric in a perfect array of colors.

I decided to make my own fabric because I could not find any fabric that could reflect these natural gradient colors that I was inspired by in the foliage process. I picked four colors from the foliage period and I started to spray paint over the muslin fabric. After getting the gradient pattern, I laser cut the fabric into stylized leaf shapes for my garment. Then I constructed the dress by attaching the leaves to a base made of cotton fabric.


Certainly the circuit and mechanism for the leaves are the most curious parts of this dress. The obvious components are the Arduino Micro, the Adafruit Lux Sensor and servo motors. Here’s how it all comes together.

There are four servo motors embedded in the back of the garment which are attached to steel wires.The steel wires are inside clear tubes with tiny holes. At the site of each hole, I attached the leaves by melting wax onto steel wires. When there is less light in the surrounding environment, the servos start to speed up and pull the steel wire. When the thread is pulled sideways, the leaf hits the side of the tube’s hole which breaks the wax.In that way, the mechanism makes leaves fall down.

That might seem pretty easy, but remember this dress has evolved, and in my original post, Birce talks about heating flexinol wire in order for the wax to melt and release the leaves. She has definitely worked hard to make this dress successful.


As you might guess, Birce’s dress has gotten a lot of compliments and people often tell her that it looks like something Lady Gaga or Katy Perry would sport for a show. She’s really been inspired to take the next step with her career.

Many fashion designers like the idea of “fashion can be kinetic, dynamic and almost living expression of creating a unique experience with nature.” I will work with some fashion designers for integrating technology into their clothing for their runway show. They love the idea of combining fashion with technology for creating more dynamic pieces. I think we will see more interactive and responsive fashion pieces in the near future on the runway shows.

I can’t speak for fashion designers, but I personally find Birce’s work exciting because she understands women and also keeps a playful, unexpected aspect to her designs. It’s nice to be reminded of nature through our fashions, which of course leads me to squirrels. What? Yes, we’ve got a great Animatronic Tail tutorial that will get you wagging in no time. So, start browsing fake fur for the animal of your choice. Woot!


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