Cognitive Marchesa dress lights up the night

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The Met Gala. The night where fashion meets future. Designers and celebrities live out their wildest fantasies in fashion for one night. For the 2016 Met Gala, IBM approached Marchesa, world famous high fashion designers, to create a dress that would light up the night.

The story

Five weeks before the Met Gala, IBM took Watson to meet the Marchesa team. Putting Watson to the test, IBM wanted to incorporate him in not only in the framework of a gown, but also in the creative process. After some hesitation, as their typical design time is six months or more, Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig of Marchesa agreed. Fortunately, IBM Watson technology understood their brand and style, helping to pick fabrics and colors and eliminating months of indecision.

Over the next five weeks, they worked to create something beautiful. Generally, the Marchesa team use mood boards over a period of some months to determine the look and, more importantly, the feel of the dress. Watson took images of 200 dresses that Marchesa had produced over the last few years and ranked them based on number of colors and the number of times they had been photographed, then used that information to decide on the material and color. Because Georgina and Keren are drawn towards a more feminine and historical design, Watson chose a style that was the perfect combination for their brand.

The technology

The dress lit up in different colors based on the sentiment of Tweets about the dress. Tweets were passed through a Watson tone analyzer and then sent back to a small computer inside the waist of the dress. As social media is an integral part of their business, the Marchesa team loved how Watson could incorporate that information into the glamour of the gown.

The technology was intimidating at first for both Keren and Georgina, who admitted she “can barely turn on her computer.” After successfully integrating it into the gown, they are now open to the technology and love how easy it made the design process and other functions of business.

Since the creation of the dress, they have begun to consider the future of cognition inside gowns. There have been many requests for the dress to be sold for bridal and evening wear, after press coverage exceeded their own high expectations and the dress went viral.

In my wildest dreams, I could have never imagined we would live in a world with self-driving cars or dresses that change color. These things aren’t impossible; in fact, they are happening right now.

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Eva Fernández


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