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iStyle: Cut-out and keepers

Lasers aren’t just for astronauts and  Bond film baddies. Precision-engineered fashion is the latest hi-tech trend to hit  the high street, says Emma Akbareian

For creative minds, inspiration can strike at any time, which goes some way to explaining the sometimes curious nature of seasonal trends. Thus laser cutting, a technique commonly used within the manufacturing industry, has been widely utilised by designers and high-street stores alike to give fashion and accessories a modern edge for the past few seasons.

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Laser-cut detailing was seen for spring/summer 2013 at Sportmax, where leather was cut into a hound’s-tooth motif, while Giles Deacon used it to produce a shattered-glass effect. Of course, if money is no option then look to the work of revered couturier Azzedine Alaïa, who is widely regarded as the master of this particular technique.

Contemporary premium high-street retailer Whistles has incorporated the method into a number of its key spring/summer pieces. Gemma Hyde, the design manager of the brand, explains the science behind the technique: “Laser cutting works by directing the output of a high-power laser, by a computer programmed with our specific artwork, at the material to be cut. The material then either melts, burns, vaporises away, or is blown away by a jet of gas, leaving an edge with a high-quality surface finish.”

Assisted by the economic benefit that comes with mass production, the high street has taken on this technique with gusto. For summer, laser-cut T-shirts are ideal as beach cover-ups; although sometimes on the see-through side, bright swimwear is the perfect protection against any possible wardrobe malfunctions. Accessories have gone cutting edge, too, and are a good option when on a budget as the detailing can make items more luxurious than you’d think.