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dress bodice mainNew York City-based design firm threeASFOUR‘s avant garde fashion label has earned the company international accolades not only for its supremely creative designs but also for its willingness to exploit the potential of 3D printing to revolutionize the fashion industry. Recently, threeASFOUR won the Fashion Design Award from the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, an honor that carries tremendous prestige. The award was given in response to the firm’s most recent contribution to the pantheon of notable harbingers of revolutionary haute couture–threeASFOUR’s Spring Summer 2016 dress. Or, rather, DRESS.

The company was originally called ASFOUR in the late ‘90s when it was founded. A decade-and-a-half later, with the departure of Kai Khune, who left to found his own label, Gabi Asfour, Angela Donhauser and Adi Gil form the core of the reconfigured but persistently cutting-edge and award-winning fashion label, threeASFOUR. Not only will you see designs by them on the runway but if you visit the Victoria and Albert Museum in London or the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute, you’ll find pieces by threeASFOUR in both world-class museums’ collections.

Designer Gabi Asfour of threeASFOUR, who is collaborating with 3D printing colossus Materialise, particularly in the area of 3D modeling, remarked on the potential for 3D printing to change the face of fashion, “3D printing is going to take the industry multiple steps ahead in terms of form and function.” She likens the radical transformation of the fashion industry by 3D printing to the emergence of Lycra in the 1980s. Indeed, the now-ubiquitous material changed the way clothing was made and the manner in which, Asfour explained, “garments behave.”

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The designers at threeASFOUR began collaborating with Materialise back in 2013 and subsequently launched their MER KA BA collection, which, according to an article by Materialise, fused “avant-garde couture, architecture, video projections and, of course, 3D printing.” The inspiration for the MER KA BA collection, which eventually comprised a five-month-long exhibition at New York City’s Jewish Museum, was “sacred geometry and tile patterns found in synagogues, churches and mosques around the world.” Motifs as old as the three major world religions themselves combined with design aesthetics of modern day to emphasize threeASFOUR’s “hybrid identity and utopian vision.” The three designers who hail from Israel, Lebanon, and Tajikistan were joined by Materialise and architect Bradley Rothenberg who assisted them in developing 3D printed textiles “based on symbolic latticework.”

ThreeASFOUR’s Spring Summer 2016 dress promises to be yet another technological and artistic leap forward while at once celebrating the firm’s preceding decade of success and innovation. Described by the trio of designers as a “meta-retrospective collection,” their work for 2016 looks back at “familiar motifs” while pushing the envelope in terms of technological innovation.

“The challenge,” explains Materialise of threeASFOUR’s process, “was to use the 3D-printed surfaces as pattern pieces, just as if they were fabric being cut into pre-patterned sections of the dress. There’s a true marriage of traditional tailoring and modern 3D modeling.”

ThreeASFOUR’s stunning dress design neither screams “impractical” nor assures the wearer’s comfort. Rather, it belongs to realm of fashion that is far more about presaging the future than evoking the possibilities of pret a porter with such a design. Joined once again by Bradley Rothernberg, threeASFOUR and Materialise created a sensational example of how their ingenious “3D fabric weaves multiplied and the geometry got more intricate,” said Gabi.

The extraordinary dress reads as an extension of the body of the model, with sheer portions revealing the flesh beneath the complex weaves of 3D printed fabric while the projecting portions suggest delicate, elegant, lacy outcroppings on the landscape of the body. Historically, haute couture has never been about wearability as much as it has been about potential and with threeASFOUR’s latest design and, significantly, its collaborative efforts combining couture, architecture, and 3D modeling and printing, we’ve been provided with a scintillating glimpse of the future of fashion.

[Photos: Schohaja]
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