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NEW YORK — At an unusual fashion show last week, sixth and seventh graders mingled with scientists, and a sewing machine provided the live music.
Fairy tales were the inspiration because “in fairy tales, the fashion is magical,” said designer and consultant Diana Eng, who was a contestant on the second season of “Project Runway” and won the Yahoo Hack Day award with two others for a blogging camera purse.
In the show last week, flowers bloomed on a dress, garments changed shape and lights twinkled in response to motion and sound. The influence of Little Red Riding Hood and organic forms were evident in a red wool capelet with a pleated, retractable hood. Balloons twinkling like fireflies shot up to the sky when they were released from under the skirt of a blue-and-white gown that could have been worn by Snow White.
The show took place at the Eyebeam Art and Technology Center in Chelsea, where Eng is a resident. Some of the items from the Fairytale Fashion Collection will be for sale on dianaeng.com.
In the run-up to the event, Eng posted weekly videos about the mathematics and science behind the designs, which were viewed and commented on by classrooms in New York and Florida. Girls from the Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women in Brooklyn attended the presentation and plan to create their own runway show at the end of the year.
If Eng receives a grant, she will develop the project into a national curriculum for schools, with the plan that students around the country will share and critique their ideas and sketches with each other online.
Eng’s visits to classrooms have revealed that girls will hang back when shown circuit boards, but rush forward to program “Twilight” vampire-inspired sparkles.
“It makes things relevant for girls trying to learn about technology,” Eng said.