A woman in a dress covered in scale-like display screens.

Adobe Evokes Interest, Alarm, and Mockery With New Animated Dress

Is this the future of fashion? If so, it might not be quite cute enough.

Not since 2015, when “the dress” (was it blue and black or was it white and gold?) broke the internet, has a non-celebrity-worn gown rocked the internet as much as the new “smart display fabric” interactive dress unveiled by Adobe last week. Project Primrose, which is the name of Adobe’s smart display fabric project, is making waves for a variety of reasons. 

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First of all, it features actual flexible fabric display screens that look something like shiny one-inch fish scales come together to create adjustable, programmable patterns that can change every second if the wearer wishes. Adobe has shown us smart fabric displays before, but only on flat surfaces. Christine Dierk, a research scientist at Adobe, revealed the dress prototype at Adobe’s annual Max Conference to much enthusiasm, including audible oohs and ahs in the audience. She showed how the pattern could change according to various inputs, even swishing according to her own movement. 

The idea is that this flexible, programmable, non-emissive technology might fit into future iterations of fashion as more sustainable changeable text and color, to mention one potential plus. Let’s hope fashion designers, rather than techy folks, are more involved in the future because right now, the dress is, in my opinion (and it appears some people on TikTok agree with me) impressive, but just not very cute.

Many people on social media have reacted positively to the dress, calling it “ridiculously cool” and “pretty incredible.” 

On the negative side, however, one overarching criticism on social media has been that the new “smart dress” is exhibiting major “Hunger Games vibes,” even pointing out that the project is “Literally named Primrose,” which is the trilogy’s main character’s sister’s name.

This line of critique continues conjuring up the grotesque and gaudy wealth of the Capitol in Suzanne Collins’ bestselling trilogy, as opposed to the poor and starving districts. “I just want a house,” one person commented on a TikTok video of the big tech reveal. “I just want health insurance,” wrote another, and “I just want to feed my family and afford gas,” said another.

More commenters darkly joked about the ways Adobe and other companies might monetize the new fashion technology, dolling out jabs like, “If it’s Adobe, they’ll just let the world know your creative cloud subscription has expired,” “Until it asks you to subscribe to remove ads,” and “Probably gotta pay a subscription to unlock different patterns, lol.”

(featured image: Adobe)

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Cammy Pedroja
Author and independent journalist since 2015. Frequent contributor of news and commentary on social justice, politics, culture, and lifestyle to publications including The Mary Sue, Newsweek, Business Insider, Slate, Women, USA Today, and Huffington Post. Lover of forests, poetry, books, champagne, and trashy TV.