Many designers tout the power of fashion and technology, but multidisciplinarian Anouk Wipprecht is building a career actually doing it.
To play up Rolls-Royce Black Badge, the Dutch designer and bionic artist Viktoria Modesta joined forces to demonstrate boundary-pushing design. The pair have collaborated in recent years with Wipprecht maximizing her fashion technology skills to create various futuristic prosthetics for Modesta. For Rolls-Royce, Wipprecht spent about two months designing the carbon fiber 3-D-printed bodice inspired by the Black Badge car. The futuristic bodice has carbon fiber shoulder pieces to highlight the artist’s neck and her hips. With help from United Nude’s Rem D. Koolhaas, spiky shoes were created included one with a tiny Tesla coil in the heel that conducts electricity through Modesta’s fiberglass and carbon fiber hollowed-out prosthetic. Modesta will use the futuristic designs for upcoming performances.
As part of their drive to elevate prosthetics with technological “marvels,” Modesta is changing the meaning of disability, according to Wipprecht. “This statement is bold because she stands for this new generation of people who are saying, ‘What I have is not a disability. It’s actually super cool and super badass.’ This is why Rolls-Royce wanted to work with Viktoria. She represents the future of things and interweaving technology with fashion.”
For a Space-Age clip for Rolls-Royce, Modesta worked with the photographer and director Joris Frantz. Acknowledging how nonfashion companies are interested in cutting-edge design, Wipprecht said, “There is a lot of interest in the field and in the idea that fashion and technology can be merged now. I hear that a lot from the brands that I work with. Being able to combine electronics with fashion “really creates this symbiotic organism between brands and technology companies or automotive companies. It is the glue that was always missing.”
Noting the delicacy of design, Wipprecht said even the slightest layer of paint on the prosthetic’s interior can feel sensitive to Modesta. Their alliance allows the designer to incorporate electronics inside of the prosthetic as opposed to on the body, which is a more standard procedure.
Through her work for Microsoft, Google, Swarovski, Intel and other companies, Wipprecht personifies advanced hybrid design. “It is cool that there can be garments that look like cars. But another aspect is they are working on technology that can be used in cars, that can also be used in garments or in this case in prosthetic legs. It is still a new field but I see a lot more interest.” Wipprecht said. “The other thing is technology [companies] have started to get more into design, and to become more knowledgeable. They want to have more designers [involved] and the next big thing is art. Companies also see the advantage of combining technology and art. Products like these can form a really interesting symbiosis.”
Modesta said, “Futuristic design is at the core of my work, pretty much since I started. Initially, it was much more about traditional performing arts and fashion but once I started working with prosthetics, that really changed for me. It introduced the idea that you can rework the architecture of the body and play with the idea that I create a distinctive character for every project. I have really been diving deep into that and sometimes call myself ‘the body architect.’ Whether it’s prosthetics, shoes or tech fashion that is much more functional, every line, every texture, everything that is part of the design has to come from a visceral feeling that we are trying to convey. Usually, that goes on to live in a live performance or in video content. It’s the fundamental piece of the puzzle in the storytelling for me as an artist.”
Wipprecht created a prosthetic embedded with electroluminescent panels that fully illuminated Modesta used for her Crazy Horse performance in Paris earlier this year, as well as one a few years ago that emitted smoke when pressure was applied to a heel. Wipprecht is now crafting another prosthetic made of silver with a moving spike that Modesta plans to start using next month.
The pair worked on a Sonifica project, where Modesta wore 3-D-printed “tusks” that enabled her to play music thanks to an accelerometer in her prosthetic leg that sounded with movement. A collaboration with Tesla Coils and Arcattack resulted in a futuristic Faraday Dress. Wipprecht is currently working on a more modernized version of a Faraday dress with Arcattack for Red Bull that can withstand more than 500,000 volts of electricity. She said, “The problem with Faraday suits is they look like a knight — very medieval. It’s not that fashionable. Red Bull wants to introduce something that is more fashionable.”
Wipprecht will also be working on another project with Cirque du Soleil that will be out in January, which she described as “a darker project that will have more liquids on the body.” Last month she unveiled costumes equipped to dispense customized cocktails and fragrances.
Meanwhile, Modesta “is really focusing on how to bring the magic of technology and the body to a live audience. When we look at content, it is very easy to imagine that a lot of it is through AI and everything is done through post-production. Bringing that awe that you get from seeing these inventions in real life is something that I am really passionate about. It is also different and challenging because you are part of a live audience, and all the experimental technology that we have been working on is really put on the spot there.”
For the past couple of years, she has been focused on collaborations that result in something “somewhere between a fashion film, an art film, a music video and a brand campaign. That’s kind of really been my jam — just a little glimpse into this universe where everything has been created for us,” Modesta said.