The use of smart materials and wearable electronics has rapidly expanded in the field of fashion, introducing new interactive qualities of surfaces, materials and garments. In fashion garments, the performative environment functions as an abstract site for experimentation, expression and communication of the wearer through the intelligent garment. However, there is still limited use of embodied technologies in the field of performance costume for text-based and music-based performance, with the exception of integrated lighting technologies, currently broadly used in musical performance. This article provides a critical review of specific examples of technology-led garments in live performance, and uses a specific fragment from the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony as a case study to highlight how technologies embedded in costume can create interactive interfaces between the body of the performer and the environment – the space, the other performers, the audience – becoming a transmitter and receiver of emotions, experiences and meanings in innovative ways. By analysing this case, as well as by posing questions, this article aims at generating a discourse on the expressive and narrative potential of the use of intelligent materials and embodied technologies within the creative practice of costume design.