Lady Gaga — the mistress of distressed hips — first introduced us to fermenting fashion a few years ago, when she wore the infamous “Meat Dress.”
If some of you found that a little too shocking, there is a new fermented fashion trend brewing up, which may have more broad appeal to vegans and wine drinkers alike: Red wine fabric. As in fabric made from red wine, fashioned into t-shirts, dresses and even swimwear. Although KimYe has not been sighted in any of these yet, this reporter thinks it would be a vast improvement over Kim K’s current bag-of-flour look; and as well it would sharpen her boyfriend Kanye West’s recent white t-shirt-and-jeans-screaming-microphone-throwing image.
This style marks a major evolution in what many of us have already created/displayed: A garment merely stained with red wine. Honestly, who hasn’t, and doesn’t have a closet full of those?
Just as the wildly popular grassroots fashion show going off down valley in Carbondale on Friday and Saturday touts that “green is the new black,” this new harnessing of nature’s miracles means, clearly, that red could be the new green, if all goes well. If technology can overcome the wet scum factor, that is.
Last summer it was reported on websites ranging from OddityCentral to the venerable Huffington Post (the oft-purveyor of both shocking and misleading headlines) and fashion blogs galore that scientists in Western Australia have made a cotton-like fabric from a scummy film that forms on the surface of red wine which has been inoculated with a bacteria called acetobactor and then converted to vinegar. Art, science and magic create claret in this most fecund fashion statement, where designers then spread the scum over an inflatable mannequin. After the newly formed fabric dries, it is removed in one piece, retaining its shape, as the mannequin is deflated. The finished project is a bacterially fermented seamless garment, without a single stitch, capable of any custom shape, size or even color, wrapping the adorned in what looks like a cross between an art-class papier-mâché project and a fruit roll up. Somewhere between Lady Gaga, Gwar and Alexander McQueen.
Move over silk, hemp, milk, cheese, grass, corn husks, doilies, used bike tires, bottle caps or anything else the recycling/upcycling fashionistas have come up with. Instead, you may be asking for pinot noir or merlot, each producing their own related, distinctive hue (white wine and beer work too, for that cheerful, summery look). As soon as scientists successfully team up with designers to alleviate the scum factor, that is. You see, once the garments have dried they are ready to wear, except that when dry they are as fragile as tissue paper. Sounds like a red carpet wardrobe malfunction just waiting to happen. Back to the scum factor: The garments must remain wet to retain a semblance of strength. Bring along a spray bottle and some good ol’ fashioned libido for that perfect hot and squishy first date. Yum!
Personally, I would avoid the swimwear, for fear that it just might turn back into syrupy wine while you take a dip, leaving you as naked as an organic grape. And avoid walking past a group of winos, for they might chase you for your enological choice of couture. But for those of you who can’t get enough of the sheer look, go for a riesling flavored dress, as this wat’ry clear wine should make quite a transparent splash. And perhaps when Gaga returns from the hip replacement disabled list, she can tout the wonders of wine across her bosom.
Seriously though, have fun at the fashion show (and after, as Carbondale is set to rage). Cheers! Remember, wine reveals truth.
Drew Stofflet lives in Carbondale. Correspond with him at firstname.lastname@example.org.