February 07 2014

Designer Dossier: Chromat's 'Bionic Bodies' A/W 2014

New York-Fashion Week

Chromat is lead by Becca McCharen, architect turned fashion designer, also Beyonce's & Madonnas go-to brassiere-cage maker. In fact, Chromat owns the body cage. Owns them. Moody, dark, beautiful, technological, architectural, the finale dresses were actual form-fitting metal. An LED bra reacts to movements using accelerometers with pulsing light emissions. Becca gave us some insight behind her very first runway show.

Inspiration Image:
Tweetping- a global data visualization website that live-maps each tweet in the world as it happens- inspired Chromat's AW14 Bionic Bodies collection. We loved the dark, moody color story on the site, the tiny pings of light that become a fuzzy luminescent map of connections.

The collection in three words:
• Interactive
• Data
• Romance

Favorite or iconic pieces:
We worked for weeks engineering our finale dresses. They are made of 143 individual chromed metal pieces that have been formed and shaped to fit the body, and connected with over 550 jump rings. We mapped out the dress in CAD to have it CNC routed.

On the bottom right, a CAD drawing for the dress on the bottom left. (CAD is what architects use to build buildings.) (Photos: Joy Jacobs and BFA)

Runner up:
LED Cone Bra Cage programmed by an engineer named Mike Prevette. The bra reacts to movement using accelerometers with pulsing light emissions.

Bottom Photo: BFA

Music for the show?
Ana Lola Roman composed an original score for the walk.

YouTube inspiration:
Madonna performing live in Istanbul. It was the first stop on her MDNA tour in 2012, and it was the first time we got to see her wearing Chromat. The video went viral because she rips off her Chromat, then her bra, and then flashes her nips at the audience! Love that woman.

Architecture or fashion, which do you prefer?
I love design on all scales! I think fashion has a lot of advantages. It's easier and quicker to create pieces at the scale of the body vs. the scale of the city. But I love the material pallet of architecture and plan to continue working with Chromat to develop innovative ways to use non-traditional materials in our wearable work.

Did you ever dream you'd be designing Beyoncé's Grammy or Super Bowl outfit?
Dressing Beyoncé is a total Chromat dream come true! Beyoncé embodies the bold strength that is at the core of every Chromat woman, so it was a true honor to have her seek us out to design custom pieces. We blast her nonstop, do dances in the mirror in the clothes we're working on, and always think What Would Beyonce Wear? She inspires us to be bold, innovative and strong.

Becca McCharen poses in the High Line Room (Photo: BFA)

Show's over. Disneyland or back to the grindstone?
Vacation! Or at least a long weekend off with all my family who's coming into town for the runway show. The morning after the show, you'll find the whole Chromat staff at our favorite knitwear designer DEGEN's presentation at Industria. It's ideal to be showing on the first day of fashion week, so I can enjoy the rest of it!

Photos Joy Jacobs & BFA

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