Fashion's latest technological embrace is Google Glass, the optical computer that looks like a fallen-forward headband and functions like a mobile device. It transmits the computer's "screen" into the vision of one eye and vibrates audio into the inner ear, so no need for speakers.
While Google Glass is more technology than fashion, its product design is as sleek and futurist as you'd expect a $1500 wearable mini-computer to be. It's potentially practical as it's hands-free, but it's also potentially a big distraction to your normal field of vision. I feel like Google Glass would be difficult to imagine utilizing, but I may be old-fashioned. Considering my line of work (as a vintage clothing dealer), I probably am.
Yet I look back at vintage fashion with a chuckle when I research comparable fads that've come and gone... Spy cameras embedded in 1930s walking sticks, telephones built into 1950s handbags, transparent plastic space helmets as de rigueur 1960s headgear. Maybe some of these ideas were heralded as techie wonders in their day, as exciting as the Google Glass debut... and maybe as expensive too. Here's one from the year 1999 looking into the 21st century:
When designers make good decisions and predictions about wearable technology, iconic fashion can be a result. Such iconic images designate that our collective future has arrived, and imagery that Google Glass offers looks tantalizingly futuristic... and available today in laser-sharp focus through a state-of-the-art lens. That's irresistible to many.
But only fifteen years ago, the prospects for future fashion were much hazier, and in many cases, totally off the mark. The 1999 image above depicts a skin-baring one-piece dress with sun protection and temperature regulation, so you can bare your boobs during a blizzard. I'm afraid we're nowhere near this kind of technology... or comfort with nudism.
Interestingly, it also displays a "global link" built into this vixen's headset, along with a voice activated phone, watch, memo and binoculars. That aspect's a pretty good Glass-like vision by Barry Kieselstein-Cord, a lesser known designer compared to the following Randolph Duke creation.
Here Randolph Duke has illustrated the ubiquitous futurist jumpsuit with a built-in calculator on the chest, along with a hands-free headset. Okay, the headset has some use, but who's keying in anything on that calculator? And I have to wonder if it's somehow embedded, programming her into a Stepford Wife while simultaneously determining the tip due at the Soylent Green Cafe.
Betsey did mention that in the 1960s, her vision of the year 2000 involved computerized space suits that would melt onto the body at the push of a button. We'll watch for Google to debut that one next.
Millennium Mode: Fashion Forecasts From 40 Top Designers by Roberta Wolf and Trudy Schlachter.