Algorithmic lace: the bra to help women after a mastectomy

Pretty lace bras are always a winner. So what about pretty lace bras that are actually really, really smart and help women who’ve undergone a mastectomy? Champion of champions, right?

So no wonder this “algorithmic lace bra” has been named the Grand Prix Winner in this year’s Lexus Design Awards – and with 1,548 entries from 65 countries, that takes some going and is more than worthy for a celebration.

It’s been created by Lisa Marks, who teaches industrial design at the prestigious Parsons School of Design (yes, where lovely Tim Gunn, ex-Project Runway hero, works), and is designed especially to support women going through some of the toughest times of their lives.

“When you’re trying to put something on your body and then you have to make it fit and it’s not really for you, I can imagine that’d wear on your confidence,” she told Coolhunting at the awards in Milan this month.

This one-of-a-kind design is handcrafted to suit the wearer using body scans and consultations, meaning it is crafted to avoid sensitive post-surgery areas.

But best of all, it uses a new technique that involves algorithmic patterning – maths, basically –to mould the lace onto the body and change it to suit. The result is a fabric that highlights and flatters the woman’s shape, allowing her to celebrate her body.

The woman also gets a say in the design, saying where she wants more coverage or if they want to show their scar. When they look in the mirror, they’ll see their body as they want it to look. I can’t believe how empowering that must be after such intrusive surgery.

Lisa’s bra also lets women avoid the use of heavy prosthetics, with all the hassles that can come with them, if they wish.

“About 40 per cent of women with a post-mastectomy choose to not have reconstructive surgery,” she told journalist Alejandra Nash. “Many wear mastectomy bras and external prosthetics that are very heavy and create discomfort.

“Since seams, underwires, and traditional bras can be uncomfortable, with the algorithmic lace bra you can create a three-dimensional bra that fits the body and honours whatever form the body is.”

In addition, Lisa’s beautiful design is helping save lace-making methods in danger of dying out. And as women are the main people behind this, that could make a huge difference to communities in need. It’s been proven time and again that putting women in charge of the family’s finances can have a huge impact not only on their lives, but also the lives of all those in the local economy.

It uses algorithms to preserve the ancient techniques involved in lace-making, allowing weavers to create designs based on traditional patterns. Each stitch can be viewed and maths used to model proportions, shapes and so on.


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“The textile industry is where algorithms were first deployed as means to realise new aesthetic choices in fabrics during the 19th century,” said Lexis judge and designer John Maeda. “Lisa’s algorithmic ;ace project not only feeds on that rich history, it goes even further back in time to incorporate a 16th century technique for weaving complex lace patterns.”

Best of all, while this can be done using the latest tech, the lace itself has to be made by hand – machines just aren’t dexterous enough. And that means a largely-feminine craft facing extinction can be saved for future generations.



What do you think of the algorithmic lace bra? Would you wear it? Let me know in the comments below.

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