Mathematica in High Fashion
When the 2000 Fall and Winter
presented in April, the unique Mathematica-inspired designs therein
the attention of the fashion world. Japanese fashion designer Eri Matsui,
who searches for forms of beauty through her work, used Mathematica
create these clothing patterns ranging from the utterly simplistic to the
The Eri Matsui collection included designs of mathematical forms such
as Klein bottles,
and knot theory,
the latter of which she says
"approaches a single solution in a mathematical sense while creating many
variations in a fashion sense." And although computers were used for the
creation of the designs, they reminded many viewers of biological things,
much like the traditional beauty of the Japanese kimono.
This response to her work supports Ms. Matsui's belief
in an embracive,
contrasting, relationship between computers and nature, science and art.
search for universal forms to make women look beautiful initially led Ms.
Matsui to explore the Golden Ratio. When she began to think about "What is
beauty?" from a mathematical point of view, her interest grew to encompass
the entire geometrical science. She first saw examples of
used to create such stunning graphics in the Newton Magazine.
Matsui began her career as a fashion designer in Chicago, Illinois,
after her husband was transferred abroad. She had previously studied fine
arts and craft design in high school and college, working as a graphic
designer for a time. While in Chicago, she attended William Rainey Harper
where she was exposed to fashion design for the first time and found it
suited her perfectly. After six years in Chicago, and numerous awards, she
returned home and established "Eri Matsui Japan," now with studios in
Tokyo and Paris.
has been unveiling her fashions in the Tokyo Collection Shows
over a decade now, as her reputation has grown. Following the show, a
representative from a Japanese Mathematica reseller
gave a demonstration of how Mathematica was used in
the design process of this year's collection. Ms. Matsui says she uses
Mathematica because "I can compare between things generated from a
and things created with human passions....I cannot tell what I am going to
get when providing different conditions and rules; however, this
anticipation makes it more exciting for me." Once a design has been
in Mathematica, she uses a transcribing technique to transfer it to
The collection was extremely popular amongst viewers at the show, and Ms.
Matsui has already sold the "Knot Theory" designs to an international
In July, Hikaru Nishida, a famous Japanese singer, performed live on a
prestigious Japanese public television station wearing one of Ms. Matsui's
Mathematica-inspired designs. Due to extensive media interest, a
interview with Ms. Matsui was also conducted, and an article about her and
her use of mathematics in her work recently appeared in several Japanese
Mathematica's involvement in the Tokyo Collection has also
other opportunities to discuss mathematics with a larger audience. For
example, Ms. Matsui has been invited to lecture at Musashino Art
where she herself was once a student, on the relationship and boundaries
between the arts and sciences. Ms. Matsui, who acknowledges that nowadays
many people are not interested in mathematics, points to the fact that, "I
didn't like it either (laugh). I never thought it could be such a
and lovely thing!"