MOSAiC strikes the pose at NY Fashion Week | Polarjournal
Birefringence in the service of fashion. Together, a designer and an artist-director have created garments whose prints are inspired by the colours and patterns of sea ice when viewed through a microscope with a polarising filter. The result was presented at New York Fashion Week, one of the fashion world’s major events. An opportunity to raise public awareness of scientific research and the challenges facing the Arctic. Image : Maison Iagu / Instagram / Amy Lauren

Designers draw inspiration from sea ice patterns collected during the MOSAiC expedition to create clothes presented at New York Fashion Week.

When researchers from the MOSAiC expedition carried out ice core surveys in the Arctic sea ice, they were probably far from imagining that the results of their research would pop up at the famous New York Fashion Week.

And yet, sea ice is now literally fashionable. A fashion duo, composed of a designer and an artist-director, were mesmerised by the patterns of ice exposed to polarising light and decided to create clothes from it. An unusual way to raise public awareness of scientific research and the issues encountered in an Arctic which is increasingly suffering the effects of global warming.

To produce these patterns, designer Corentin Daudigny and artist-director Amy Lauren used images generated by Marc Oggier of the University of Alaska Fairbanks during his research on ice cores taken in the Arctic in 2019. Thereby, thin slices of ice were cut from the core for observation. Placed between two polarising filters, and exposed to a light source, the ice then reveals an incredible festival of patterns and colours. Called birefringence, this phenomenon can be observed when light passing through ice is split into two parts by the crystal structure of the ice.

This technique called polarisation microscopy is used to map the different crystals that form the ice. The colours make it possible to determine the individual orientation of the crystals and, consequently, to understand the mechanical properties of the ice.

We usually view ice as transparent. But the orientation and size of ice crystals create shimmering colours and geometric patterns when exposed to polarised light. On the right, a section of sea ice collected in the Arctic during the MOSAiC expedition and which served as motifs for the Sea Ice Collection. Images: Johanna Kerch / Marc Oggier

Presented at the New York Fashion Week on 9 September by fashion brand Maison Iagu, the collection is the result of Project Sea Ice which promotes “slow fashion” in a fashion industry often singled out for its negative impact on the environment. Beyond clothing, the project created by Daudigny and Lauren also aims to be a bridge between art, science, fashion and technology.

The duo itself had met at an airport. The young director was working on images for a documentary film and on her screen, photos of cross-sections of sea ice popped up. This picked the designer’s curiosity. A discussion started, one thing led to another and Bang, Project Sea Ice was born.

Amy Lauren had indeed already participated in the Nansen and Amundsen Basins Observational System (NABOS) expedition, where she had worked again with Marc Oggier whom she had previously met during the MOSAiC expedition. About the NABOS expedition, Lauren also made an award-winning documentary, The Arctic Halocline, which can be discovered here.

Link to Project Sea Ice :

And for those who like to see more images of ice exposed between polarising filters, photographer Tom Wagner created a whole website for it here.

Mirjana Binggeli, PolarJournal

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