Four sophomore students at the University of Hefei, in eastern China, recently proved that you don’t have to spend a small fortune on a designer dress to look stunning. You can make it yourself, for free, using only plant leaves.
Photos of the four students’ stunning leaf dress have been doing the rounds on Chinese social media for about a week, and people still can’t stop gushing over them. And who can blame them, really? Just take a look at what these kids were able to do with about 6,000 leaves, some thread and mountains of patience.
The team behind the unique dress – two girls and two boys – got the idea for it over six months ago, while trying to come up with an interesting project for the annual “Animal and Plant Specimen Contest” at the University of Hefei. During that time, the girls couldn’t stop talking about how gorgeous the dress worn by Chinese actress Fan BingBing at the Cannes Festival looked, and one of them suggested they try to recreate it out of plant leaves. They ran the idea by their teacher, and even though he considered it to difficult to pull of, they went with it anyway.
After researching the best way to use plant leaves as fabric, and coming up with a design for their dress, the four students started collecting the leaves. Some species were readily available on campus, but others, like magnolia leaves were not, so they had to travel to Tianzhu Mountain to collect them.
To ensure that the collected leaves didn’t shrivel or rot, the students removed the flesh by boiling them in an alkali and sodium carbonate solution for about two hours. This made the flesh easier peel it away, leaving only the “skeleton” of the leaf, a thin film with all the intricate veins left intact.
This was much harder than it sounds, as the four students struggled to get the proportions of alkali and sodium carbonate and the boiling time just right, to ensure that the flesh could be easily removed without damaging the skeleton of the leaf. Through trial and error, and with their teacher’s guidance they were able to come up with a perfect formula.
The four science and biotechnology students could only work on their special dress after classes and on weekends, so it took them nearly four months to complete. That’s a pretty long time, but it all paid off when one of the girls got to finally put on the leaf dress and show it off to everyone. They posted photos of it, at various stages, online, and it went viral almost instantly.
We’ve seen some good-looking unconventional dresses in the past, like this gown made entirely of human hair, or this fashionable creation made of tea bags, but this 6,000-plant lead dress might just be the most impressive.
Photos: Sina Weibo
via 365jia (Chinese)