Fashion Designer Suzanne Lee directs the BioCouture research project, which sprang from an idea in her book Fashioning the Future: Tomorrow’s Wardrobe, a seminal text on fashion and future technologies. Her research harnesses nature to propose a radical future fashion vision: Can we grow a dress from a vat of liquid? BioCouture takes microorganisms like bacteria, fungi and algae to cellulose, chitin and protein fibers like silk, to explore Nature’s sustainable materials for future consumer products.
Using bacterial-cellulose, Lee aims to address pressing ecological and sustainability issues around fashion and beyond. A Senior Research Fellow at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, she is working with scientists to investigate whether synthetic biology can engineer optimized organisms for growing future consumer products.
“What I’m looking for is a way to give material the qualities that I need. So what I want to do is say to a future [insect], ‘Spin me a thread. Align it in this direction. Make it hydrophobic. And while you’re at it, just form it around this 3D shape.” —Suzanne Lee
Fashion Designer Suzanne Lee shares her experiments in growing a kombucha-based material that can be used like fabric or vegetable leather to make clothing. The process is fascinating, the results are beautiful (though there’s still one minor drawback …) and the potential is simply stunning.
Director of the eponymous BioCouture research project, Suzanne Lee is the first fashion designer to successfully “grow” fabric in her bathtub out of bacterial-cellulose. With an avid interest in ecological and sustainability issues around fashion and textile applications, Miss Lee has taken on the mission of working with scientists to investigate whether synthetic biology can engineer optimized organisms for growing products like garments and shoes. Listen to her talk on how she discovered that “growing” your own fabric is possible!