Addiction Design Process for Salk Design and Discovery Fashion Showcase

Addiction is a Fashion Design Project between Kayla Chase, a researcher in Graham McVicker's Laboratory for Integrative Biology at the Salk Institute, and Kara Riekstins, a Technical Designer at San Diego Mesa College.

Kayla researches drug addiction's effects on the brain to find links between genetic predisposition and drug addiction.
These images verify dopamine neurons in the mouse brain. The above photo shows the dopamine neurons, colored purple, while the location of DNA within each cell is colored blue. This photo is a magnified neuron from the photo above. Here we see Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP), which these mice express in the nuclei of specific cells of our choosing (in this case they express Dopamine).

When analyzing these images, the Green Fluorescent Proteins jumped out as a design motif. So, to turn the GFPs into a more fashionable, workable concept, we decided the GFPs could be embedded into the dress as glow-in-the-dark opals.

Kara made these opals from clear resin, glow powder, and iridescent cellophane shreds.

These do glow!!

We both agreed that Kayla's work was not about the literal dopamine receptors she had marked in the brain, but rather she was addressing a bigger societal issue--Addiction. The tagline of the Salk Institute is "Where Cures Begin," and we would not need a cure if there was not a problem to begin with. So, the dress itself wraps the scientific imagery with the sociological effects of addiction into one outfit.

Here we see a glamorously trashed woman wrapped in a fantastical swirl of purple and blue chiffon. The Green Fluorescent Proteins lie on her shoulder, also wrapped in swirled quills made from charmeuse. She wears a broken, stained glass headdress to represent the human hope that drug addiction destroys.

This is Kara's unfortunate first bodice.

When we met in class and presented our progress, and Kara presented this eyesore, she knew that she had to remake the foundation bodice because all of her classmates' work was so beautiful.

Kara's helper/photobomber

The cup pattern was very difficult and did not function on the first bodice.

So, for the second bodice, Kara fixed her pattern and used cleaner sewing techniques to improve the quality of the garment.

Much Better!
Kara fixed the cups for the second bodice. The bodice fit so well and looked so good!
For the second bodice Kara used nicer fabrics as well. The shell was cut from Silk Dupioni, the interlining cotton lawn, and the lining was cut from silk charmeuse.
Kara also used a more efficient technique to sew the cup channeling. The bodice still has channeling inside, but this time the chanelling was not sewn to the lining or shell, instead the chanelling was sewn onto the interlayer.
Kara's mind got into such a twist over this foundation bodice. Kara knew that she was going to cover it with chiffon ruching...so originally she thought she could get away with the shoddy construction of the first bodice. But Kara is tired of making one muslin and then going to the final garment--it takes 3 or 4 times, (sometimes more, this still isn't perfect!!), to perfect a pattern. Kara wanted to push herself to the next level and fix her pattern, finish her seams correctly, and create a breathtaking garment.

The bodice took the most time because Kara kept correcting it. After the bodice was finished we could move onto the next few steps.....

The fluorescent opals are laid down with the charmeuse quilling. The Charmeuse quills are made from 3/16 copper bezel wire wrapped in bias-cut spaghetti straps.
The tedious process of draping ruched chiffon
Placing the colors

Finally, our final component of Addiction was our stained glass headdress.....

Kara received her Master's degree in Theology before coming to Fashion Design. She was inspired by the luminescence of stained glass and thought it could represent the hope of the human soul.
But since religious imagery can bring forth its own meaning for viewers, the religious stained glass could confuse the overall message of our design. So, we thought that agate stained glass conveyed a more secular message of human hope.
The Human Soul...Shattered.....
These agates are glued onto Transparent Worbla Thermoplastic. Finding a transparent glue that could both stick to the plastic and the glass agates was a challenge--hint: silicone adhesive!--and this headdress went through several iterations. The "broken" glass was created by cutting out a jagged edge and etching the back of the thermoplastic.

To finish the stained glass headdress, I "leaded" the agate slabs with black caulking and mounted the "glass" onto a tiara form.

See the Final dress at Salk's Design and Discovery Fashion Showcase!

October 4, 2017, from 5:30 to 8 p.m.



Created with images by Fr James Bradley - "IMG_2980" • GOC53 - "Zurich (6 of 23)"

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