For stretching the potential of fabric.
A former fashion designer, Geneviève Dion now leads a team of engineers, medical researchers, scientists, and designers who use digital fabrication and computerized knitting machines to develop high-tech textiles. She is working on fabric that could harvest and store energy or be wired with sophisticated sensors to monitor fetal activity and track wearers' vital signs.
Garments would have the look and feel of regular clothes without any cumbersome straps or wires. Dion got hooked on textile innovation in the 1990s when, as a young designer, she experimented with ways to create permanent pleats in chemically treated silk. "I became more interested in the process of making the textiles than in the fashions," she says. But even if she's mostly left style behind, Dion still hopes that her pioneering work will one day show up at the mall. "Gore-Tex was invented to use on the moon," she says. "Now we use it every day."