Physicist ignites big bang in fashion industry

When Fiorella Terenzi transformed a Milan fashion show into an astronomical marvel, she did not anticipate the impact it would have on the fashion industry.



Just seven months after Italian designer Ermenegildo Zegna debuted its fall-winter collection to the sights and sounds of space with the help of Terenzi, the FIU physicist has been tapped to give a presentation about the collaboration during The New York Times International Luxury Conference later this year.

“When you are engaged on multiple aesthetic levels, learning finds an emotional home, and it is remembered forever, Terenzi said. “Life imitates art, and art imitates science. It is high time to use science to empower the aesthetic brain processes — left and right brain combined in tempo.”

A pioneer in the field of acoustic astronomy, Terenzi produced sounds from space that were blended with music from Tchaikosvky for Zegna’s fashion show soundtrack. Models walked in tempo with pulsating stars as animations of space served as the visual backdrop. While her specialty is sound, Terenzi also consulted on the animations, intertwining glamor and science in a one-of-a-kind display.

Terenzi, who joined FIU in 2012, began her astronomy career in her native Italy after earning a Ph.D. from the University of Milan. She is among the first to explore the sounds of space in an aesthetic context. She specializes in recording radio waves from far-away galaxies and turning them into music. Her work has been hailed in the scientific community, in the entertainment industry and now within the fashion world.

“As an astrophysicist, I have always been a maverick. I have always followed my own personal trajectory,” Terenzi said. “Most of the time, this has led me to discover rare and wonderful things. To always follow the uncommon trajectory is just one of the life lessons I have learned by studying the laws of the universe.”

At The New York Times International Luxury Conference, Terenzi will present on the collaborative mind — how she was able to bridge astrophysics and aesthetics for Zegna. In its 14th year, the conference brings together the biggest names from the worlds of fashion, art and technology. This year marks the first time the conference will be hosted in the United States, coming to Miami on the eve of Art Basel in December. Previous conferences have been hosted in Singapore, Rome, Paris, Hong Kong and Istanbul.