Forward Fashion

May 4, 2012

Rheanna Sand

How often do science and fashion collide? Pretty much never. Except if you consider the mom-jeans-with-tucked-in-golf-shirt scientist uniform retro enough to be avant garde. Which, given hipster culture, could be just around the corner.

But at this years' Cornell Fashion Collective spring fashion show, a new material was debuted that brings together "marvelous" and "malaria prevention" in the same garment. African natives Matilda Ceesay and Frederick Ochanda, both from the fiber science and apparel design program at Cornell, designed a hooded bodysuit embedded with insecticides at the nano-scale level to ward off potential malaria-carrying mosquitoes.


  She's could be a science superhero! Malaria Woman! Okay, maybe not.

(photo by Mark David Vorreuter)

Insecticide-treated nets are common in Africa, but this novel material binds the repellent to the fabric using metal organic framework molecules, clustered crystalline compounds, which allowed them to load up to three times more insecticide than normal nets. Plus, these are garments that can be worn throughout the day, and the compounds don't dissipate away as they do in typical nets, which are dipped in the insecticide.

The prototype bodysuits have been made in six different styles, in gold, purple, and blue (what a coincidence - my favorite colors to wear together!), with a mesh hood and cape that also contains the mosquito repellent. Who doesn't love a good bodysuit-cape combo?

And with an estimated one child per minute dying of malaria in Africa, this technology could go a long way in battling the spread of this pervasive parasitic disease.



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