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Nanotechnology enters fashion world

02
May '07
Fashion designers and fiber scientists at Cornell have taken "functional clothing" to a whole new level. They have designed a garment that can prevent colds and flu and never needs washing, and another that destroys harmful gases and protects the wearer from smog and air pollution.

The two-toned gold dress and metallic denim jacket, featured at the April 21 Cornell Design League fashion show, contain cotton fabrics coated with nanoparticles that give them functional qualities never before seen in the fashion world.

Designed by Olivia Ong '07 in the College of Human Ecology's Department of Fiber Science and Apparel Design, the garments were infused with their unusual qualities by fiber science assistant professor Juan Hinestroza and his postdoctoral researcher Hong Dong. Apparel design assistant professor Van Dyke Lewis launched the collaboration by introducing Ong to Hinestroza several months ago.

"We think this is one of the first times that nanotechnology has entered the fashion world," Hinestroza said. He noted one drawback may be the garments'.

Ong's dress and jacket, part of her original fashion line called "Glitterati," look innocently hip. But closer inspection -- with a microscope, that is -- shows an army of electrostatically charged nanoparticles creating a protective shield around the cotton fibers in the top part of the dress, and the sleeves, hood and pockets of the jacket.

"It's something really moving toward the future, and really advanced," said Ong, who graduates in December and aspires to design school. "I thought this could potentially be what fashion is moving toward."


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