Move over Dolce & Gabbana and make way for Blythe & Olivia.
The Westport Public Library recently staged a Geek Your Fashion Show where it asked kids “to show us your innovative wearables and accessories,” and two local 11-year-olds, Blythe Serrano and Olivia Valante, responded with style to spare.
Blythe rocked the runway in a dazzling pair of Cyber Boots. These silver creations come with flashing lights, a step counter and a device that recognizes colors – all powered by a match-book-size solar panel – and believe us, these boots are made for space walkin’.
For her part, Olivia Valante showed off a swirly light blue skirt with vertical and horizontal trim made of Coca Cola flip-tops sewn onto dark blue bands. She carried a cute matching clutch – a Coke can with a metallic carrying strap.
Blythe, a home-schooled Norwalk resident, walked away with the award for best digital wearable, and Olivia, a sixth-grader at Coleytown Middle School, won in the innovative wearables category, for fashions that use “new or different materials.”
The Geek Your Fashion show, part of the library’s Mini Maker Faire, took place April 26 in the Library’s McManus Room under the direction of teen services librarian Jaina Lewis.
Blythe’s backstory seems a perfect fit for a fashion-forward kid. Born in Spain of a Spanish father and British mom, she lived in the U.K. before moving to this side of the pond. However, she brought with her a sophisticated Brit accent that’s just the right accessory for a budding designer.
The concept for her Cyber Boot was born at a project for Destination ImagiNation, a New Jersey-based group that teaches the creative process, and later refined at the Norwalk Maker Space. The challenge was to invent gear for an extreme environment – the kids picked a mine shaft – and Blythe’s idea was to make boots that generated electricity. The boots initially used a dynamo built into the sole, but that was later replaced by a solar panel.
Blythe started with a pair of Disney sneakers. First she applied a skin of silver duct tape, then added strands of tiny light emitting diodes (LEDs), a mini-circuit board and lots of multi-colored wiring to connect all the gizmos. The color-recognition panel provided the finishing touch. Whatever color object you hold up to the panel, that’s the color the diodes flash. The cost of Blythe’s snappy sneaks? $150.
As children’s services librarian Karen Bruce, the show’s co-chair, said, “Everything looks better with LED lights.”
Olivia says the idea for her skirt combines her love of “embellishment” and her concern for recycling. The skirt was matched with a dark blue tee by Westport designer Ellen Gang, who runs fashion camps for kids. Olivia has attended the camp and takes classes in sewing, a skill she put to good use attaching the shiny flip-tops to her skirt.
When she wasn’t modeling her creation in the McManus Room, Olivia was at Ellen Gang’s booth at the Maker Faire helping promote a charity event Gang is doing for K.I.D.S., a non-profit that provides new toys, clothes, shoes and baby items to needy children all over the world.
The Geek Your Fashion program began with a Wearable Technology Workshop where kids learned how to create a simple circuit with conductive thread, attaching LED bulbs at one end and a battery pack at the other. All the paraphernalia was sewn onto a “Make Something With Me” T-shirt, creating a nice high tech fashion statement.
Most of those at the workshop were pre-teen girls who, as one mom put it, are “just becoming interested in fashion and spending more time checking out outfits in the mirror.”
Bling it on!