Some people like the feel of velvet against their skin. Some want to wrap themselves in flannel. But how about wearing clothes made from beer? Scientist Gary Cass and designer Donna Franklin created a dress using ordinary, liquid beer and bacteria called Acetobacter. The idea of wearing beer and bacteria sounds a bit unpleasant, but the dress from Cass and Franklin actually looks and feels quite normal. Here’s how it works: Cass adds the bacteria, which poses no threat to human beings—it’s actually used to make cooking vinegar—to beer. The bacteria then absorbs the liquid and transforms it into solid fiber, which Franklin can shape into a dress.
Cass actually stumbled on the scientific process by accident when he was working at a vineyard years ago. He let oxygen into a fermenting barrel of wine, which spurred the growth of some Acetobacter. A week later, much of the wine had transformed into a solid, which served as the inspiration for his first experiment in fermented clothing—a wine dress. The wine dress, though, was at least as impractical as the insane styles you see on the runways of Fashion Week, because it had to remain wet at all times or it would become brittle and break. No one wants their dress to shatter into a hundred pieces while they’re wearing it. But some technological advances have made it possible for the beer dress to stay dry, flexible and, according to Cass, totally free of any beer smell.
The dress will be on display at the upcoming World Expo in Milan, where Cass and Franklin will be looking for partners to further develop the technology.