Dutch Fashion Designer Maartje Dijkstra 3D Prints a Moving, Breathing Dress Inspired by Traditional Dutch Costumes and Insect Exoskeletons

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Braindrain by Maartje Dijkstra.

Braindrain by Maartje Dijkstra.

Dutch fashion designer Maartje Dijkstra used a 3D printing pen, a desktop 3D printer, LED lights and micromotors to create an incredible avant garde dress that is both stunning and, frankly, unsettling. The dress seems to move and shift to the rhythm of music or ambient sounds, as if it was breathing. It almost feels like something that HR Giger would have thought up and discarded, not because it wasn’t a good design, but it didn’t have enough phallic imagery for him. Believe it or not, the dress that Dijkstra named “Braindrain” was inspired by traditional Northern Dutch dancing costumes from the mid-1800s. Ultimately, the finished product is certainly an incredible piece of design that is as disturbing as it is hard to stop looking at.

When it comes to avant garde fashion design, it is worth remembering that no one is actually expected to dress in the clothing on a regular basis. Well, no one other than maybe Lady Gaga going out for coffee or something. So what exactly is the point of creating off the wall clothing like the type created by fashion design legend Alexander McQueen, who Maartje Dijkstra interned with in 2005? There have been entire books written about the complicated relationship between high fashion and mass produced clothing, but basically those over the top designs that you see on the runway are meant as inspiration pieces. They set the tone for the coming season, and inspire the use of colors, fabric, pattern and cut.

Braindrain was inspired by classic Dutch dance costumes, so I suppose it's fitting to photograph it in front of a modern Dutch windmill.

Braindrain was inspired by classic Dutch dance costumes, so I suppose it’s fitting to photograph it in front of a modern Dutch windmill.

Sometimes high-end designers have their own lines of ready to wear clothing that are more everyday wearable clothing options inspired by their own designs, but sometimes not. The bottom line is, the goal is to create wearable art that is both new and inspiring and that grabs attention. And it is certainly hard to not notice Braindrain, especially if you saw someone walking down the street in it. But if you look beyond the odd silhouette, strange construction and dozens of gold bits that look a little like breasts as first glance, there is a remarkable amount of detail and well-engineered structure to the whole thing.

A closer look at the dress construction.

A closer look at the dress construction. Click to enlarge.

The black parts of the dress are entirely hand drawn using a 3Doodler 3D printing pen. Each individual section of the dress is then stitched together, again by hand, using black polyester and silk wires. It is, obviously, mean to invoke an insect’s exoskeleton, or more specifically chitin, the semi-transparent material that holds the exoskeleton together. Despite the fact that it looks rigid and stiff, it’s actually rather deceptively pliable because the dress was drawn using the the 3D printing pen’s flexible filament option.

“Gold elements are 3D printed and designed in collaboration with designer Vincent Mensink and 3D printed by Oceanz and finished with a gold transparent lacquer. The parts look sleek and smooth, but they have been given an extra dimension. Because some parts are printed thinner it creates a light line pattern with the LEDs. Through the use of motors, which move the golden parts, the design gets an animal feeling. The parts are flaps that look like they breathe and sounds of the music take it to them and send it back to the environment,” Dijkstra explained.

In addition to the classic Dutch costumes and accessories that Dijkstra used as a starting point in her design, she was also inspired by music, which is actually an important element to appreciating Braindrain. Electronic music composer Newk created an ominous soundtrack for the dress that incorporated sounds from a Dutch church organ, the sea and the sound of the ground being shoveled. The music drives the pulsating lights and moving gold bits that were created with technology artists Neon&Landa. You can learn more about Dijkstra and her fashion-tech designs on her website. Discuss these latest fashion designs over in the Dutch Designer 3D Prints Dress forum over at 3DPB.com.

[Images: Maartje Dijkstra, via Oceanz]
No, those are not gold breasts, but they do move in rhythm to electronic music.

No, those are not gold breasts, but they do move in rhythm to electronic music.

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