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The 2022 Paris Fashion Week was full of surprises, but the biggest among them was perhaps French designer brand Coperni’s pièce de résistance -- a spray-on dress. Twenty-five-year-old model Bella Hadid stood on the ramp while two men sprayed the dress onto her, enthralling the audience. This week, we delve into the science behind this spray-on fabric, called Fabrican.
What is Fabrican?
Manel Torres, a fashion designer by education, is the inventor of Fabrican.
Spray-on fabric, or liquid fabric, is a suspension of polymers and additives. According to Dr.Torres, it mixes natural and synthetic fibres with liquid polymers in an aerosol can, and turns into a non-woven fabric when sprayed.
As seen during the fashion show, a woman adjusted the dress after it had been sprayed on Ms. Hadid, and it appeared to behave just like any regular dress.
How it all began?
Dr. Torres completed his undergraduate degree in fashion designing in Barcelona and moved to the Royal College of Art in London for further education. During his postgraduation, he found the process of deciding patterns, finding fabric, and fitting it to create a dress too cumbersome. He wanted to come up with a solution that would shorten the process of creating a dress.
He was inspired by silly string – an aerosol can that sprays colourful strings of plastic – and spider webs to create an instant fabric. The Imperial College of London provided him with the scientific support needed for the experimentation, and he delivered positive results two years ago.
The science behind Fabrican
Today, Fabrican is a patented spray-on fabric technology of Fabrican Ltd, a London-based research and development company formed in 2003.
According to the company, the fabric is formed by cross-linking of fibres that stick to each other and form a “second skin” when sprayed on a person or a surface. In its patent application, liquid fabric from Fabrican is described as a homogenous suspension of at least one diluent, a binder, and fibres. The fibres should be “sufficiently small” to flow through the spray device. The diluent is a liquid, usually an organic solvent like acetone, or water. It evaporates quickly when sprayed to form the fabric. The binder is solid at room temperature but soluble in the diluent before spraying, and, as the name suggests, binds the sprayed material together. Therefore, the binder and the diluent must be matched. Polyvinyl acetate is a particularly suitable binder.
The liquid fabric can be sprayed using a spray gun, an aerosol can, or a portable sprayer, and dries on contact with the skin or a surface. The spray technology can be used to create a variety of liquid fabrics with different properties, including varying textures and colours. The fabrics can also be altered as per the customer’s demands, and can range from wool to cotton to cellulose, among other things.
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