Technology has officially infiltrated fashion, and last night’s star-studded Met Gala served as proof. The glamorous event, always known to set the fashion police’s tongues wagging, took on a very 21st-century theme on Monday, with guests offering their takes on this year’s theme — Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology. Thoroughly embracing this modern marriage are IBM and Marchesa, who debuted a so-called “cognitive dress” on supermodel Karolina Kurkova.
— Karolina Kurkova (@karolinakurkova) May 2, 2016
Calling it a “first-of-its-kind garment with cognitive inspiration woven into every step of the creative process — from concept and R&D, to design, and finished product,” the dress comes from the combined atelier of fashion powerhouse Marchesa and none other than IBM’s Watson. Not only is this AI powering hotel concierges, giving us recipes, and tracking the Masters golf tournament, it’s now designing dresses as well. Who says you can’t do it all?
“This all started when we learned about the Met Gala theme,” Ann Rubin, VP of branded content and global creative at IBM, told AdAge. “That is how we talk about Watson — using cognitive technology to help humans do things better.”
The cognitive capabilities of the dress are contingent upon “a mix of Watson APIs, cognitive tools from IBM Research, solutions from Watson developer partner Inno360, and the creative vision from the Marchesa design team.” To design the gown, Marchesa chose five human emotions for its final creation to convey — joy, passion, excitement, encouragement, and curiosity. Then came IBM Research, who used their new cognitive color design tool to translate these emotions into various hues and image aesthetics.
Then, IBM explains, Watson came into play, suggesting “color palettes that were in line with Marchesa’s brand and the identified emotions, which [came] to life on the dress during the Met Gala.”
Kurkova’s dress represents the latest in IBM Watson’s efforts to more seamlessly integrate its technology into everyday life (though in this case perhaps working from the top down). “The IBM and Marchesa collaboration is just one example of how cognitive computing is unlocking creativity and discovery,” reads a related IBM statement. “This underlying technology is enabling discoveries in industries far removed from fashion, such as pharmaceuticals, engineering, environmental and ecological exploration, and more. This collaboration provides a look at a not-so-distant future where cognitive technologies are intrinsic in everything we do and create.”