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Capitol Contributor: Ying Gao

Fashion that talks back in a beautiful accent.

What if our clothes reacted to lilting praise or a harsh insult for us? Designer and professor at the Graduate School of Montreal Fashion Ying Gao flirted with that very theory when she created dresses with thousands of dressmaker pins that move and change patterns in accordance with sound vibrations. “This project was built around the idea of uncertainty,” Gao has noted of her creations, which feel very Jil Sander in their minimalism. “Both garments are activated by the spectator’s voice.”  

Gao is a pioneer in photo luminescent, sound vibration, and electronic-infused designs.  Many of her pieces—from tunics to dresses to scarves—interact with elements such as light, sound and the slightest touch.  Every piece Gao designs exists within the illusion of a living, breathing entity and encapsulates the wearer in an animate garment.  Often collaborating with artists, she has created a glass handbag, a multiform dress that changes slightly for every day of the week and a sleek trench coat fashioned from medical grade latex.

Capitol Couture could easily see edgy tribute Johanna Mason in one of Gao’s outspoken designs—though Mason is never slow in her own heated reactions. By responding to the inflections and vibrations of a speaker, these dresses seem to laugh or wince in their rippling patterns. Gao captures the precariousness of our everyday audible communication—and the power of speech.  This year, the designer showed her work at New York Fashion Week with Opening Ceremony. May we suggest a runway show of gowns by Gao that react to the applause of fashion editors?

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