The science behind Anrealage's photosensitive tissues
"We are all part of humankind, even if the way I see the world is not the same as the way you see yours": designer Kunihiko Morinaga presents a wearable version of "Umwelt" (from the German "environment" or "surrounding world"), a concept developed by German philosopher and biologist Jakob Johann von Uexküll in the 19th century that explores how living beings perceive their environment. A lifelong lover of chemistry and color, the designer born in 1980 in Kunitachi, Tokyo, began investigating the potential of photochromic textiles about a decade ago, on the strength of a completed graduate degree from Waseda University School of Social Sciences. Since then, he has used them in various collections (including a collaboration with Fendi in 2021), but the fall-winter 2023-24 collection pushes photochromic technology to new levels by using faux fur, velvet, lace, knit, jacquard and satin as well as shades such as yellow, red and purple for the first time.
Struck by the sun's rays, or in this case UV lamps, the outfits' aesthetics slowly evolve revealing a variety of patterns and colors evoking the Earth's wonderful biological diversity, with the light awakening "submerged" graphic motifs such as flowers, stripes, checks, polka dots or the Anrealage logo. The snow-white total looks thus move into a completely different tonal range, thanks to photosensitive colors designed to evolve through the days and seasons, changing with the intensity of natural sunlight and coexisting with nature and the environment. The garments then return to their original color in about three minutes, when they are no longer exposed to UV light. Experimental photochromic materials produced in-house by Anrealage are also joined by accessories such as oversized bodices and footwear designed in collaboration with Recouture.
In these crucial years of fighting climate change and activism for the preservation of natural habitats, the collection serves as a pro-biodiversity manifesto, drawing inspiration from new scientific narratives imbued with poetic flair. For the fashion world, and beyond, it is time to push the boundaries of our "Umwelten," our subjective realities, to celebrate the rich variety of perspectives on the world.