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A Pulse on Fashion

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Fashionistas are always looking for a dress that makes their hearts beat faster. But what about a dress that literally shows everyone else your racing pulse?

College of Textiles alumna Jazsalyn McNeil’s Pulse Dress—both visually stunning and technologically relevant—incorporates LEDs that blink with the wearer’s heartbeat. McNeil talks about her dress and the broadening relationship between technology and fashion on Friday, Feb. 3, at 11 a.m. in the Teaching and Visualization Lab at Hunt Library.

McNeil worked with the NCSU Libraries Makerspace program on the dress, fusing art and design within the emerging fields of wearable technologies and interactive electronic textiles. The Makerspace helped her deploy biometric sensing and nanomaterials within her designs.

The talk is part of the NCSU Libraries “Making Space” series of public talks and workshops that raise awareness among women about access to tools and technology while lowering barriers to entry for first-time users of makerspaces.

McNeil’s work will also be on display for the entire month of February in the Hunt Library’s Apple Technology Showcase as part of “Undergraduate Research in Action: The Pulse Dress,” an interactive exhibition co-presented with the College of Textiles Nano-EXtended Textiles Research Group (NEXT). See the dress in action here.

“Fashion and apparel are a part of our everyday lives, but they haven’t changed that much in the last few decades. Meanwhile technology is changing quickly all the time,” McNeil says. “With our phones, we escape reality, and we’re distracted from our environment. So I wanted to integrate technology in a way that could raise our awareness of ourselves and our environment.”

“It’s not enough for me to just design something that’s appealing. I’m always searching for something with more purpose and meaning that we can integrate into our lives.”

A member of NEXT, McNeil cites shows like Space Odyssey, movies like The Fifth Element and anime such as “Ghost in the Shell” as influences, more for their futuristic and transhuman ideas than for their literal costuming and visual design.

“I was inspired by those topics, so it makes sense that that trickled down into the design and art that I produce.”

McNeil currently works on projects for galleries and museums, as well as for apparel companies across the country.