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Of Interest

See archived entries

Fusion fashion

A collision of worlds

As Gabriela Hearst, the Creative Director of the fashion brand Chloé, is quick to tell you, she is very excited about hydrogen fusion. She had read about ITER and other fusion projects in an article in the Financial Times in 2021, which sparked her imagination. Always in search of new inspiration and innovative approaches to sustainability, she organized a visit to ITER with her creative team. This visit, and her research into fusion in all its forms, including at Commonwealth Fusion Systems and Helion, inspired her Spring-Summer 2023 collection, revealed last week during the Paris Fashion Week.

In Paris on a donut-shaped runway, under pink-plasma-hued lights, luxury fashion brand Chloé's spring-summer collection 2023 draws inspiration from fusion. (Click to view larger version...)
In Paris on a donut-shaped runway, under pink-plasma-hued lights, luxury fashion brand Chloé's spring-summer collection 2023 draws inspiration from fusion.
A day before the Chloé show, Hearst invited representatives from fusion to meet with her team and fashion journalists to explain the link between fusion and fashion, which is, admittedly, not immediately apparent. Explaining her fascination with fusion and its link to her new line, Hearst said, "The focus of our research was fusion energy as a large-scale, peaceful, clean energy source. What I didn't expect to experience from our visits to ITER (public sector), Commonwealth Fusion Systems and Helion (private sector) was the powerful passion that overtook me to tell the good news to everyone that would listen. The energy that moves our universe will, in the not-so-distant future, help power our world and solve many of our concerns today."  She added, "To me, sustainability is an energy issue ... and until we find a way to get ourselves out of fossil fuels and coals, which move this world around 85% of the time, we're done."

When asked what he thought about Hearst's passion for fusion, ITER's Head of Communications Laban Coblentz replied frankly, "I know very little about fashion, and to be honest when Gabi wrote to ask about visiting ITER, I will admit that I didn't know who she was. But when she and her team visited ITER, I was stunned because she was the most well-educated layperson on the topic of fusion I had ever met. You could see, on the worksite tour, that she was familiar with the components and features from her reading. It was an inspiring collision of worlds."

Tokamak references were incorporated into the circular designs of the cut-outs in the clothing, the accessories, and even into metallic buttons that resembled components. Isotope shapes were interpreted as rivets on denim. Even the runway was in the form of a donut, with a pink-plasma-hued light show shining circles around the models, and hanging LED rings that pulsed with light and were placed similarly to a tokamak's vertical coils.

Designed by Chloé's Creative Director Gabriela Hearst, the collection reflected the colours and shapes in the ITER Assembly Hall. (Click to view larger version...)
Designed by Chloé's Creative Director Gabriela Hearst, the collection reflected the colours and shapes in the ITER Assembly Hall.
Hearst is well-versed in using her platform of fashion to address global challenges and is at the forefront of sustainability in the fashion industry—which, according to the World Bank, is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions. Although fashion can seem like a distant world to some scientists and engineers, its impact and reach are indisputable. The fashion show was a fusion of light, clothes, and creativity, but also a genuine effort to raise the awareness of new audiences about fusion and hope. As Shira Tabachnikoff, ITER's internal and stakeholder relations manager said, "We're at the cusp of fusion being the next form of energy but we need all the minds, and this is an amazing channel to raise awareness."

Fusion is not just a science story; it is also a human story with the power to ignite the imagination. As Hearst says, "I have deep gratitude for the star-builders that not only deal with one of the hardest challenges in physics—plasma—but also, through their eyes, see a future that is as bright as the stars we are made of."

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