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Nobel Laureate May-Britt Moser Fashion DesignerMatthew Hubble

A Dress for the Queen of Neuroscience

The Thinking

It began one morning while watching the news reports of the previous night’s Oscar winners. The Oscars, where the world’s most talented actors and actresses walk the red carpet in elegant suits and beautiful gowns! We celebrate films which have made us laugh, cry, and inspired us and somehow enriched our lives, whether it small or large impact. Then I began to think about the people who have made our lives longer and more comfortable, who brought us clean water, electricity, communications and knowledge. I thought about the people who are themselves at the edge of all human knowledge and are continually pushing at the boundaries of understanding so that we can live more enriched, healthier and happier lives. Our scientists and engineers; our inventors.

dress in detail Leather Grid Cell Scarfs
marie curie

The Nobel Prizes are awarded to some of the most remarkable people on the planet of whom we owe thanks to. To name a few greats: Marie Curie whose work has contributed so much to cancer treatments; Alexander Fleming, the man that discovered penicillin; Crick, Watson and Wilkins (of course not forgetting Franklin’s contribution!) deciphered the structure of DNA. This is not to underestimate the more recent winners such as this year’s Laureates for the prize in Physiology or Medicine. They have uncovered the secrets of the brain’s positioning system and how if influences the memory. This research is forming the foundations for what will be a journey of huge discovery of the most complicated thing in the known universe, the human brain!
Here is our chance to celebrate them, the Nobel Prize awards ceremony! Of course, with what is a strict dress code for John O’Keefe and Edvard Moser, I can only hope and that I can convince May-Britt Moser to wear one of my creations. But how can one approach such a remarkable person?

May-Britt is a strong impressive woman with a long elegant body, like a model, but who always wears a smile. The dress needed to reflect her, and we thought perhaps the easiest way to do this was by taking inspiration from her research. Her work mostly uses rats, the creatures she loves so dearly, however we felt this may be a difficult subject. Then I began to think about the grid cells – the neurons that are at the heart of her Nobel Prize. Maria and I began sketching and making samples of possible materials. We considered laser cutting silks and layering them but the colours, the shapes; it was just too disorganised. An alternative approach brought us to marking out the grids on the mannequin, manipulating and adjusting it until it would compliment May-Britt perfectly. And that was it! The design was found.
o'keefe moser moser Silk Grid Cell Scarfs

The fabric and colour needed to be decided upon. It needed to be luxurious and elegant; it needed to reflect May-Britt. She loves bright colours but I didn’t feel that royal blue was right, and black was not suitable either, after all this is a party! We settled on navy, the happy in between. The grid needed to to be special, to really shine, so metallic leather was the obvious choice. For the dendrites and cell bodies of the neurons we figured beads were the perfect choice. We had a lot of work ahead!

Now that we had the design, the materials were needed. I ordered several samples of silk and leather from a range of national suppliers, and headed into the city of London to look for more. I trawled for hours – the reasons for why varied, too heavy, the wrong sheen…the list went on. With a heavy heart ready to give up I visited one last shop. The poor assistant, Natalie, was patient with me as I asked for sample after sample, and after an hour I was torn about whether I should give up and settle for one of these leathers, or to simply go home empty handed. But then Natalie, my saviour, presented to me the one she found in a far corner. It was the perfect weight and had a beautiful shine, this was the one! neuron scarf lether wineLeather Grid Cell Scarfs

With the materials in hand the pattern could be finalised. The grid is made from hexagons based on equilateral triangles, therefore there was going to be silk 6 panels coming together with 5 strips of leather. Given the weight of the silk, the grid strips needed to be 3mm wide to accentuate the lines – 2mm was too harsh, 4mm too bulky. The pattern was adjusted accordingly, and the result was 26 panels for the dress and 16 for the lining – and not one panel was the same!

The dress body was made, next was the beading. The neurons has to be an accurate representation; We used a mixture of sequins and beads for the cyton, and created the beautiful synapses similarly, but the myelin sheath on the axons we just couldn’t make look beautiful and so decided a splash of artistic license is allowed after all.


The dress made and ready to show May-Britt. We wanted her to really feel that the dress was hers so we used no models, simply dressed the mannequin and took many photos for all perspectives of the dress. We uploaded these to a secure webpage to then share with Professor Moser.

opening Silk Grid Cell Scarfs

How were we supposed to get the attention of a Nobel Laureate who undoubtedly has the most horrendous inbox ever? It needed to be someone close to her so we copied the email to her husband, Edvard Moser another winner of the Nobel Prize! But it worked and eight hours later I awoke to the most wonderful reply: “I would be thrilled to wear it at the Nobel Prize award ceremony!”

Nobel Laureate and Matthew Hubble
May-Britt Moser
May-Britt Moser Matthew Hubble






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