'Transforming gowns in The Hunger Games': One of the world's largest software firms reveals more about dress made up of tiny displays — but don't expect that one-off wonder on shelves anytime soon

Adobe x Christian Cowan Dress
(Image credit: Adobe)

Adobe has collaborated with fashion designer Christian Cowan to create a mesmerizing dress which Notebookcheck rightly points out brings to mind Katniss Everdeen’s transforming gowns of The Hunger Games (minus the flames). 

The dress, part of Adobe's ever-evolving Project Primrose, debuted at the 2024 Fall/Winter NYC Fashion Week, reportedly wowing audiences with its interactive array of patterns and animations.

Known as the Adobe x Christian Cowan Dress, this outfit is composed of 1,264 individual laser-cut polymer dispersed liquid crystal (PDLC) 'petals'. PDLC, an electroactive material usually found in smart window applications, can change the amount of light it diffuses multiple times per second. This allows the petals to alternate and shift between shades of silver and ivory.

Bringing the dress to life

As you’d imagine, the creation of the dress was reportedly a significant undertaking. Each PDLC petal had to be underlaid with a flexible printed circuit board mapped to a larger array.

Adobe's product suite, including Illustrator and After Effects, were used to design the flexible PCBs, create the patterns, and bring the dress to life via the various motion graphics.

"The true technological craftsmanship that has gone into this piece is mind boggling,” said Christian Cowan, who has dressed celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, Cardi B, and Heidi Klum. “And the simplicity you are left with is so seamless, you’d never know the layers upon layers of boning, satin, cable work, mother boards, transmitters and polymers scales that are all at play. The best part about the job I have is to be able to dream, and then make those dreams a reality, this was exactly that."

Project Primrose is the brainchild of Christine Dierk, an Adobe research scientist who specializes in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) with interests in wearable computing, ambient displays, fabrication, and interaction design.

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Wayne Williams

Wayne Williams is a freelancer writing news for TechRadar Pro. He has been writing about computers, technology, and the web for 30 years. In that time he wrote for most of the UK’s PC magazines, and launched, edited and published a number of them too.