|pacific magazine san diego
Janet: Light-up fashion designer creates out-of-this-world garments"
by Assia M. Mortensen
Janet Cooke Hansen is a rocket-scientist-turned-fashion-designer
who describes her aesthetic as "a little like Liberace meets Tron." She
on" the clothing of performers like Pink, Incubus, and Korn. She's
illuminated Kanye West's glasses and R. Kelly's hat. She turned Daft Punk
into robots and lit sweat-suits for MIA.
Hansen created her job title, "fashion engineer," when she founded
Encinitas-based Enlighted Designs, Inc. With a PhD in bioengineering, she
is one of the few people working today with the scientific background to
design lighted clothing of this complexity.
"I had dabbled in lots of types of engineering and had been exploring
different kinds of art," she says, "so when I was able to combine
them in a wearable technology fashion show, that was an 'a-ha moment.' "
Hansen learned to sew at age seven; and while many of her peers were playing
with dolls, she installed miniature lights in her own dollhouse. Over the
years, her artwork and clothing designs began to incorporate various intricate
For her LED designs, Hansen mounts individual lights and creates electrical
connections between them. "It can be tedious, but this way I can control
the twinkling of each light," she says. "For the light patterns,
I have a small driver that controls different groups of lights and makes
them turn on at different speeds." Her creations are surprisingly
flexible and durable, and most can be hand-washed (just remember to remove
the battery pack first). "A lot of my clients are still using items
five or 10 years later," she says.
The Daft Punk project she completed in 2007 stands out as one of Hansen's
favorites. "They had a pretty specific idea of what they wanted and
I was able to steer them toward what was technically feasible," she
says. "When the band came out in the lighted suits, the crowd went
See the light at enlighted.com.
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