"Fashion is the recognition that nature has supplied us
with one skin too few -
that a fully SENTIENT Being should wear its nervous system externally"
'Interzone’ Science Fiction magazine
(Project from a Glossary of the Twentieth Century
Smart Second Skin
The ‘Smart Second Skin’ dress (2002) was designed to illustrate a responsive fabric as a new method to deliver self-programmable fragrances under software control to enhance user experience and for people living with Affective Disorders. Inspired by a science fiction quote from author J.G.Ballard -"Fashion is the recognition that a fully sentient being should wear its nervous system externally", the dress focused on the neurobiological delivery mechanisms found under human skin as a method to deliver "personalised fragrances" to control erratic mood swings. This work built on earlier PhD textile research from the Royal College of Art (1997) and Smart Second Skin prototypes presented at Charmed Technology's 'Brave New Unwired World runway show in London (2000).
This conceptual garment was the idea of Dr Jenny Tillotson as a tool to help manage to live with bipolar disorder and designed by ADELINE ANDRE Haute Couture (funded by an Arts & Humanities Research Board award). The dress was developed as a creative garment prototype to illustrate a future intelligent fabric interacting with human emotions and limbic system in the brain, whereby the aroma dimension is an integral part of the end user’s sensory experience. By mimicking the human body - in particular, the circulation system, the senses and scent glands - the idea is that fragrances are diffused from micro-emitters embedded in the fabric, depending on the different moods and emotions of the user. The purpose is to offer direct life-enhancing and analgesic assistance through different mechanisms’ whilst soothing, relaxing, stimulating or invigorating the wearer.
The dress was specifically designed as an interface between the body and medical micro-tubing, to test and prepare the basis for a future interactive system by fusing a "neurobiological" fabric membrane consisting of textile elements with fine tubing (finer than a human hair), MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems), scent reservoirs, piezo nozzles and biometric sensors (this method is documented as a "Second Skin" textile in the eScent wearable technology patent. awarded in 2009). In this context, the membrane is analogous to the human body, brain and skin thus facilitating interaction between the three membranes, using the blood signals and bodily fluids of the human system. Clothing becomes an almost living organism: the microfluidic technology as an internal pump represents the heart of the fabric, the tubing represents the nervous and respiratory systems and the computer software represents the limbic system in the brain to control human emotions and olfactory experiences.
The Smart Second Skin project was presented as an interactive scent installation at e-Culture Fair (Amsterdam 2003), the Cheltenham Science Festival (2004) and at the 'Touch Me' exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum (2006). The purpose was to demonstrate a smart garment interacting with the wearer’s changing moods by releasing the appropriate aroma in response to emotional triggers, for example, joy, fear, anger or sadness. The known effective potential of the sense of smell to regulate mood and psychological state suggests that fragrance molecules can be worn as a tool on the body to create an “emotional support system.” By wearing scent in this way, clothes create active “Scentsory” properties, by offering new efficient qualities to benefit wellbeing depending on the lifestyle of the end-user. The clothes generate olfactory experiences by relieving tension and boosting self-esteem.
The Smart Second Skin dress lay the foundation for a new aroma delivery method, leading to “eScent, a collaborative project with analytical chemist Professor Andreas Manz, a pioneer of “lab-on-a-chip” and the novel concept “μTAS” (which describes a device that automates and includes all necessary steps for chemical analysis of a sample, e.g. sampling, sample transport, filtration, dilution, chemical reactions, separation and detection).
“SmartSecondSkin” constructed from silk and micro-tubes containing colored liquid that demonstrates well-being fragrances "pulsed” around the body to reduce stress, depending on the emotion of the wearer. Designed by Adeline Andre. Photograph by Guy Hills.
The Smart Second Skin dress illustrates a 'scentsory' membrane fabric and digital scent delivery system that adds function to fashion. The different coloured liquid in the tubes demonstrates how, using microfluidics, fluids can be ‘pulsed’ around the body to form 'colodours': colour therapeutic scent delivery for different emotions and moods. The spectrum of scents gives the impression that the dress is creating an olfactory experience and is a direct reference to the ‘aroma rainbow’ emitted from the ‘Scent Organ’ in the novel Brave New World (Huxley 1932): “The Scent Organ was playing a delightfully refreshing herbal capriccio—ripping arpeggios of thyme and lavender, rosemary, basil, myrtle, tarragon, a series of daring modulations through the spice keys into ambergris and a slow return through sandalwood, camphor, cedar, and newly mown grass….”
The fundamental advantage is the use of body sensors to determine therapeutic scent release when a person is stressed, with the ability to shield a user from a negative mood they should be protected from. The benefits are for everyone, as recent research shows that fragrance has a positive effect on brain activity to improve mental and physical health. The dress, therefore, enhances mental and physical well-being, whilst acting as a medium for communicating thoughts or emotions through smell, our most ancient and primitive sense.
The dress was exhibited at numerous other international exhibitions and catwalk shows including SIGGRAPH, Victoria & Albert Museum, Dana Centre, Banff New Media Center, Futuro Textile (Lille), user_mode: Tate Modern, Avantex MesseFrankfurt, Whitehall Westminster, Royal Society, Cambridge Science Festival, RCUK, NESTA Crucible Labs, FEED Festival, Viaggio Telcom, IFAI Expo, NEMO, Ernst & Young, Wearable Futures, Colour My Wellbieng, UAL Disability Week, amongst others.