Chanel's *Renewable-Energy-Themed* Fashion Show

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The aesthetics of wind and solar are unlike any power source that's gone before them.

Energy analysis is a dry business. It's underpinned by spreadsheets showing depletion rates, carbon intensities, and kilowatt hours.

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It is not, in short, normally associated with high fashion. And yet, here we see Chanel's ready-to-wear show. Models strut on a solar panel walkway underneath towering wind turbines.

Forget that the wind turbines were almost certainly powered by electric motors or that the solar panels were not producing. Obviously, the producers of the show were not trying to make a green-in-practice statement. No, what's really fascinating about this is that Chanel thought that the renewable energy future's aesthetic was worth abstracting and displaying. They were not after the electricity generation but the *look* of the panels and the *rhythm* of the wind machines.

To my eye, perhaps the most interesting thing is that this does not come out looking dystopian. Imagine this same kind of display with an oil refinery or a coal mine or a power plant. Or consider the feel of the show set near a tiny nuclear power plant giving off the trademark Cherenkov glow. There's almost no way to imagine models walking through those landscapes without it feeling like a commentary about humans *against* the machines. 

In Chanel's show, the models are dwarfed by the turbines, but not threatened. The world is fresh and clean. Though both these technologies have been around for decades now, this still feels like The Future, capital F.

Via Cara De Fabio

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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