interview with Lynne Bruning – textile enchantress
frenzy: What exactly do you do?
Lynne: I create magic, in that clothing is part of every day life, but can also transport us into what we can be, want to be, desire to be …clothing can be a physical manifestation of our desire. In today’s world, fashion has become ready made, and lost it’s individuality and uniqueness. My apparel is unique, and enables the wearer to be perceived on an individual basis. This isn’t “haute couture” however. “Haute” has very specific requirements: you must have a fashion house, must do four shows a year, etc. Haute is a set standard and system, and has been for a century. The economy can’t support haute anymore, but people still want to remain individuals, want to be the only one in that piece, and I provide a way to do that. Also, my pieces never exceed $15 thousand, whereas haute can be $40k and up.
frenzy: Give us the nuts and bolts Lynne, what makes these pieces magic?
Lynne: Some of the clothes incorporate technology inside their very essence, which can be magical. Some are cutting edge simply in the fabric choices, ranging from lab-created fabrics to Day Glo weave, which I weave myself out of surveyor string. But it isn’t just technology for its own sake – each piece has a theme and concept behind it, and the technology supports that theme.
frenzy: Can you give us an example?
Lynne: I name all of my pieces – one dress is called the “Mrs Mary Atkins-Holl”. I designed it for a competition held at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, held in the Bloch Building, which was designed by Steven Holl. Mary Atkins was a founder of the museum, and was an avant-garde, cutting-edge personality in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The Block Building consists of five translucent cube facades, and at night, light within radiates out into the city. The dress reflects this heritage: it uses dress patterns and decorative elements from the 1860s (hoop skirt, art deco, beadwork, handwork), so the form is from that era. However, the inside of the dress contains 115 UV backlight LEDs, so the dress is a replication of the museum itself, as the skirt illuminates. The fabric is an extremely cutting-edge, heat sensitive material called angelina fiber, that you literally meld with heat.
frenzy: What is your background?
Lynne: I did my undergraduate degree at Smith College, where I majored in neurophysiology, with a minor in anthropology. I then came to Denver, and received my Masters in Architecture from the University of Colorado. I pursued architecture for a while, then went back to textiles in 2003. Textiles give you an opportunity to see your designs fast, instead of just on paper and in CAD files. Also, there are no city codes to deal with, and you don’t have ten years of waiting to see a design made manifest as you do with a large building.
frenzy: That explains the conceptual basis for your work, but what about the practical stuff? Where does your weaver info, your sewing skills, and your fiber knowledge come from?
Lynne: From Emily Griffith actually. I took several couture level sewing classes – 3 or 4 as I recall. And that is where I made “Bright Patches”, my first piece. It looks simplistic, but it required some very intricate sewing. I designed it for a competition in conjunction with Fashion Group International, and it won the Evening Wear Awards, so I knew I was on the right track.
frenzy: So many architects name buildings after themselves, but you give your clothing more obscure names. Why?
Lynne: Being behind the scenes is important to me. I almost never wear my own clothes – they are such attraction getters, and I don’t really want the attention. I am a fairly private and quiet person – I like to create the magic, but then have someone else perform it.
frenzy: So you do competitions, but you don’t name the clothes after yourself, you don’t have a “Lynne Line”, so how do you market?
Lynne: I do my marketing mostly over the internet. I have a website of course, and a blog, and I have my images up on a variety of fashion and industry websites. I also get a good amount of my work through word of mouth, from people who know me from competitions. I don’t have a showroom, but I do studio showings, by request. I recently had someone come in and try on a dress, and she told me “This is better than an orgasm”. That kind of reaction tends to sell the pieces, although reaching a wider audience is proving tricky from this Denver base.
frenzy: So, why are you in Denver?
Lynne: I did my Masters’ degree here, so I made connections during the program and then stayed. Now, the people who manufacture my computer parts are here as well. For instance, I use the Lilypad by Sparkfun and the Schemer from Aniomagic, which are both Boulder-based companies. Colorado is actually an integral part of the hardware manufacturing for wearable computing, which many people don’t know. I can walk right into their offices with my fabrics and request assistance in developing new hardware. Collaboration across disciplines and cultures is a critical piece of success in today’s marketplace.
frenzy: Are you focusing just on fashion?
Lynne: I love the fashion part of what I do – I call the genre e-textiles. But my other “line” is in Adaptive technology, which takes an object and modifies it through technology. I create apparel with integrated technology in order to provide the user a better quality of life. These users specifically have an impaired ability to interact with their “built environment”, and with society. How do you RFID chip a city for a blind person? And what item of clothing can I make to interact with that technology enhanced space? I integrate technology into clothing to try to solve a problem I see. My “Bat Coat” was inspired from some time spent watching and interacting with blind kids. After I designed it, I released with a Creative Commons License. People can make it on their own. I think its really important that this sort of adaptive technology is not held up with FDA, and blocked by patents. I want it to get into the community where it can be used and can help someone immediately.
frenzy: Do you have any other examples of this kind of technology?
Lynne: A great example, that I did not design, is the Eye Writer, designed and built for a graffiti artist that had Lou Gehrigs disease. Some friends designed glasses that tracked his eyes to allow him to draw on a screen. They then routed that data over the internet, and projected it onto a building, where he could draw with his eyes, giving him the ability to continue to express himself despite his disability. They also released that project via a Creative Commons License, and released the information on exactly how to build it on Instructables, which is an online “How To and DIY” community where people make and share inspiring, entertaining, and useful projects, recipes, and hacks. I published instructions on how to make a Bat Coat on there as well.
frenzy: If someone in Denver wants to get into this field, where can they start?
Lynne: Get educated, but don’t get paralyzed by knowledge. Hesitation kills, just do it. Although, I do also teach, so come take a class with me at the Club Workshop, an open source workshop space. Its sort of a hacker space, with laser cutters, CNC routers, etc. F: What are you working on right now? I am collaborating on some ballet shoes for a dancer with the Joffrey Ballet, which create music by dancing. Pressure sensitive sensors in the shoes feed information wirelessly into a MIDI device, allowing the dancer to create music as they move.
Lynne Bruning is a creatrix of exclusive wearable art, eTextiles, adaptive technologies and decorative fabrics. Fusing together her education in neurophysiology, Masters degree in architecture and her family history in textiles, Lynne jets thru the universe creatively cross-pollinating the worlds of science, textiles and fashion with her innovative award winning designs. The rest of the time, she can be found lounging on black sand beaches in a tangerine bikini surfing the Internet.[/box]
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://frenzymag.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/danjahn.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Dan is an award-winning, Denver-based photographer, writer and global nomad. His work has appeared in magazine advertisements, editorials, and in websites, on billboards, and his books are available on amazon.com. danjahn.com[/author_info] [/author]