solar vintage by spanish  fashion designer elena corchero solar vintage by spanish  fashion designer elena corchero
mar 30, 2009

solar vintage by spanish fashion designer elena corchero

in september 2007 designboom presented elena corchero‘s work for the first time. today the collection of solar powered decorative accessories for the eco-fashion-minded consumer includes many more items that combine traditional craft skills such as embroidery with the latest smart materials.

a fan with solar panels

elena corchero portrait © designboom

solar fan




circuit boards

solar fan on the catwalk

solar dress

this collection of fashion accessories explores delicate ways of incorporating solar cells into textiles in which technology meets tradition. ornate accessories like a handheld fan and a parasol are charged while used outdoors during the day. when brought indoors in the evening they transform into a decorative ambient light display for the home, powered only by energy stored earlier. the solar vintage collection explores mobile power generation from an haute couture perspective. energy can be captured passively in an eco-friendly way while the user engages in daily life outdoors and at a distance from traditional power sources. electronic components like solar cells, resistors, and LEDs are integrated directly into antique and hand-embellished fabrics and wired together into working circuits using conductive thread. organic prints and embroidery motifs recall endangered birds. the materials used in each piece were selected with environmental sensitivity in mind. for example, the threads and support structures are cellulose-based (viscose and thin wood), and the electronic components are free of harmful materials.

solar mask


so-called wearable computing products on the market today are often designed by male designers and have a male-oriented sport focus. because of this, fashion-oriented people, particularly women, may not choose to wear the typical solar jacket or backpack. this collection aims not to hide technology but to disguise it in a beautiful and stylistic way, making it appealing to a new clientele. by using such accessories, consumers can visibly signal their support for environmental causes without extra effort and without compromising their potentially high standard of fashion. because they are distinctive and invite conversation, the level of attention to these topics in the public sphere can be increased in a bottom-up fashion, and the adoption of greener practices might become more widespread. as photovoltaic technology develops, future versions of these accessories could be used to charge a range of portable devices such as mobile phones, music players, digital cameras, and so on, saving the energy that would have been used to charge them by other means.

solar parasol

the parasol converts the sun’s energy into electricity during the daytime and uses it to light up small decorative LEDs.


elena corchero is a fashion and interaction designer with a fine arts background and specialist knowledge in smart textiles through work as a researcher at media lab europe. she holds an MA in textile futures from central saint martins college of art and design. her fashion and technology creations have appeared in fashion exhibitions and catwalks across the world. she is exploring textile interfaces for clothing and interiors following the themes of keepsakes, relationships, learning and intergenerational exchange. in september 2008 elena corchero presented her solar vintage collection, including a number of new jewellery pieces created in collaboration with richard wilson and hilary grant, at a solo exhibition at the g de joyas gallery in barcelona.

elena corchero is part of the research team of distance lab, an organisation bringing together digital media technology, design and the arts to redefine and overcome the disadvantages of distance in learning, health care, relationships, culture and other domains. working with briefs from industry and governmental partners, distance lab generates ideas and builds prototypes that inspire and can lead to new innovative products and services.

in february 2009 elena corchero received special commendation in the UK young fashion entrepreneur competition. the six finalists had travelled to india in december 2008, visiting delhi, jaipur, mumbai and ahmedabad during their two week long tour of the indian fashion industry. you can follow elena’s visit to india through her blog.

  • Me encanta, beautiful and intellegent!

    rodrigo says:
  • Good concept, beautiful work!

    MJW says:

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