Now Seen on the Runway: Milk Dresses

Got milk? The liquid that splashes into millions of cereal bowls every morning is now making a splash on runways.

German designer Anke Domaske has created an award-winning textile made entirely from milk, The Associated Press reported. The fabric, called “Qmilch,” is soothing to allergy-prone skin and environmentally friendly, too.

“Milk is underrated because people only view it as a food stuff. But you can make a lot more from it,” Domaske told Euromaxx TV.

Domaske, 28, is also a biochemist who learned dressmaking from her great- grandmother, a milliner, when she was young. She excelled in school and even won a competition for up-and-coming new scientists. After school, she went to Japan and designed T-shirts that she sold herself, the European television station said.

After returning to Germany, she studied microbiology and set up her own fashion line, Mademoiselle Chi-Chi, on the side.

“I went to university in the day then travelled back to Hanover, Germany, and managed my firm in the evening and developed my collection,” Domaske said in the news report. “I’ve always managed this balancing act between science and fashion quite successfully.”

She began to develop Qmilch after seeing her stepfather suffer with irritated, sensitive skin while undergoing cancer treatments. She told the AP that she wanted to help the many people who suffer, just by wearing normal clothing.

The fabric is made from the milk protein, casein, which is reduced to a protein powder and processed through a machine that makes threads out of the substance. The strands can then be woven into a fabric.

“It’s a bit like experimenting with the ingredients you have in your kitchen cupboard,” Domaske said of developing the fabric. “Like baking, in a way. We tested over many years until we came up with the ideal recipe,” she told euromaxx.

A recipe that’s not only skin-friendly, but also earth-friendly. It only requires a half gallon of water to produce 2 pounds of the fabric. The same amount of cotton requires nearly three gallons of water to produce.

“We know that everything that is based on oil has a limit, that materials like cotton that take up a lot of land, water and chemicals are limited, so we need to think about how we produce textiles and fabrics in the future,” Klaus Jensen, head of the Textile Research Association in Germany, told the AP. The Textile Research Association recently awarded Domaske with the innovation award, recognizing Qmilch as a new, sustainable fiber.

Now models like Mischa Barton are wearing her billowing, chic clothing. Dresses sell for about $200-$270. Customers love how the fabrics feel, describing it as breathable and soft, almost like silk.

Domaske remembers when she first heard her line was becoming popular in the United States.

“When she (Domaske’s PR agent) saw it on TV, she was really excited,” Domaske laughed. “She rang me up and said, ‘I think that I just saw your dress on TV. Mischa Barton is wearing it,’” she said on the euromaxx broadcast.

“That’s a great feeling that I can’t describe. It gave me a real high.”

The designer is now planning a men’s collection.

“We see milk fiber as an alternative to cotton, but the special thing is that we can manufacture it without using any pesticides or chemicals, and it only takes an hour to produce,” Domaske said to euromaxx.

“That’s very environmentally-friendly; it saves resources.”