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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Madeleine Brand. In a few minutes, we'll hear what the critics are saying about this week's movie releases.

But first, in the future, our coat buttons will take pictures and our underwear will telephone home when we're in trouble. Hmm. That's a sample of the runway offerings at the fourth annual SIGGRAPH's Cyber Fashion Show held earlier this week in Los Angeles. And if you go to our Web site at npr.org, you can see pictures from the show as you listen to this story from our tech contributor, Xeni Jardin.

Ms. ISA GORDON (Founder, SIGGRAPH's Cyber Fashion Show): I'm bringing you into my swirling ball of chaos.

XENI JARDIN reporting:

A cyber fashion show has one thing in common with traditional runway shows: Most of these outlandish designs won't end up in your closet anytime soon. Backstage, the event's emcee and founder, Isa Gordon, perfected her look, a layered web of Latex and leather with a crown of multicolored braids.

Ms. GORDON: The cyborg transformation takes quite some time. We started about three hours ago. So I'm halfway cyborg, not completely cyborg yet.

JARDIN: Isa's swirling ball of chaos includes designs from familiar fashion brands like Oakley and Fossil, thrown together with those of Sony and the MIT Media Laboratory. Stylists are putting the finishing touches on models Sero Tonin(ph), Venus Prototype and Stardust Angel(ph). Everyone's working on little sleep.

Ms. GORDON: You can see we have all kinds of crazy clothes and crazy looking models in here. We're really trying to balance both the couture aspect and the tech aspect. And then, or course, we have so many pieces that do both.

JARDIN: Running things back stage is Janet Hansen, who's dressed in, well, normal clothes. She also designs lingerie that lights up.

Ms. JANET HANSEN (Lingerie Designer): It's gradually becoming more mainstream to have lights in your clothing or to have functionality in your clothing, such as MP3 players and phones. And as electronics are with us all the time, it's becoming more common to integrate it with the clothes. And as issues like washability and durability are overcome, eventually I--maybe we'll all be wearing light-up bras.

JARDIN: A lot of the designs here blinked, beeped or networked. A jacket and dress displayed luminous codes to identify each wearer's body temperature just in case you want the world to know how much you're sweating. And then there was the hug shirt. When your significant other's on the other side of the world, text message their clothing and they'll feel gentle pressure like a human embrace. Isa Gordon admits that much of what's on display might seem a little weird.

Ms. GORDON: Absolutely, we are weird. I think you'll walk into this room and you'll see some of the wildest, craziest looking people you have ever seen gathered in one place. But that's the nature of cultural advancement. The status quo says, `No, no, let's keep everything this way.' The avant-garde comes along and says, `No, let's do something wild. Let's do it different.' And somewhere in the dialogue between the two, something new emerges that becomes the new status quo.

JARDIN: Some clothes were designed for business. Wearable Environmental Information Networks of Japan showed a journalist's coat called Report the World. The pink trench coat's retro silhouette housed 10 hidden cameras for capturing 360-degree panoramic images. A finger ring speaker transmits location-based audio instructions and a head-mounted display for reading secret documents is stylishly encrusted with Swarovski crystals like an electric tiara. Quin Nuen(ph) modeled the coat and liked it.

Ms. QUIN NUEN (Reporter): So you can sort of hide--you know, so you don't look exactly like a reporter when you're trying to see what's around you and you can hide yourself by being stylish but also, like, look around and be observant.

JARDIN: So you're a stealth reporter.

Ms. NUEN: In hot pink. Maybe stealth for like, you know, 2010 or 2020.

JARDIN: There was safety-oriented kids wear, too. Nancy Morrey(ph) designed a Victorian pinafore dress with radio frequency ID tags. Her 12-year-old daughter and model, Simone(ph), thought it was cool but had design ideas of her own.

SIMONE (Model): I would probably want a thing that would help me do my homework, track me down if I get lost or captured and watch TV on my wrist.

JARDIN: But some of the designs may not be ready for the real world, maybe not even the runway. Isa, our cyborg emcee, had her outfit crash a few times during the show.

Ms. GORDON: I'm sorry. I have to pause for a moment. Somehow my text in my head-mounted display has gone small and I'm having trouble reading it. And all I have to do is `select all' and change the size of the font. Oh, much better. OK. Now I can really read the words that I intended to speak here tonight. Thank you all for your patience.

JARDIN: So will consumers be as patient when their clothes start malfunctioning? Time will tell. Either way, one thing is certain: They're going to look fabulous.

For NPR News, I'm Xeni Jardin.

BRAND: Let's just say, if someone's underwear is calling me, I'm letting it go straight to voice mail.

More coming up on DAY TO DAY from NPR News.

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