Humans and Technology Flirt at the Rio Paralympics Opening Ceremony, Featuring Amy Purdy in a 3D Printed Dress by Danit Peleg
Fashion has certainly come a long way today, thanks to a much more open-minded consumer base that’s willing to express personality and a unique, independent spirit. New technology, tools, and materials also allow us a glimpse into the future of apparel as we see powerful new trends coming from younger students, as well as on the runway.
More and more fashion designers are turning to the 3D printer to bring us exciting fabrications—from intuitive materials that adapt to the wearer like that of Kinematics, to some pretty out there 3D printed designs that definitely have a futuristic bend. Along with jewelry, shoes, lingerie, and even eyewear, 3D printing seems to have found a place within the fashion world. That place, however, is constantly changing, evolving—and blowing our minds!
Those responsible for manufacturing sports and athletic wear seem to have quite a good time designing too for events such as the Olympics, the Paralympics and beyond, with infectious enthusiasm for the design process and the new quality emerging being quite apparent. And while it has been quite the eye opener to see so many athletes wearing 3D printed accoutrements, it’s safe to say that Danit Peleg and the event creative team pulled off quite a feat at the recent Paralympics opening ceremony in Rio.
A designer we’ve had the pleasure of following previously, beginning with her start as a graduate student printing an entire 3D collection from home and then showing off her designs on the runways at industrial shows like RAPID 2016, Peleg has certainly expanded her horizons, as many of us saw in regards to the opening ceremony in Rio at the Paralympics where Amy Purdy was featured in a 3D printed dress.
Purdy is a Paralympic snowboarder who undoubtedly stole the show at opening, showing us all exactly how graceful a double amputee with extremely progressive prosthetics—and a beautifully 3D printed Danit Peleg dress—can be. Performing a surprisingly sultry samba considering there was a massive KUKA robot towering over her like a gentle giant, Purdy showed herself to be far more than a champion snowboarder—she’s a very impressive dancer. The video below is extremely inspiring and definitely invokes curiosity as to how the whole event came about as well.
“I was ecstatic to get involved in this unique event,” said Peleg. “It is an incredible opportunity to design a 3D printed dress that will be seen in movement by hundreds of millions of people around the globe.”
It’s obvious that this well-choreographed performance was no spur of the moment gig. Peleg began working with Purdy and her team in November of 2015 and was, like many others, duly impressed by the Paralympian who lost her legs below the knee due to a ravaging bout of meningitis when she was 19.
“In my view,” Peleg explained, “the story of what happened to Amy is like a rebirth. I was inspired by Sandro Botticelli’s painting The Birth of Venus. The many diamond shapes present in the painting’s composition and the nude color of Venus, gave me a direction for the dress.”
They began working on a concept that is absolutely mesmerizing—a true one of a kind performance—as the human/technology dynamic is explored. Peleg points out how appropriate the dance was all around, as Purdy wore the lovely 3D printed dress on her athletic frame (looking more like a ballerina in this context), with her double prosthetics looking like a mixture of thigh-boots and toe shoes, all the while dancing with a machine that is often also connected to 3D printing.
Every part of Purdy’s dress is completely 3D printed. Peleg used a Witbox 3D printer, which she said offered her a great deal more speed—although this design did still take over 100 hours to fabricate, using FilaFlex as the material.
“I worked closely with my partners at Gerber Technology to create a fast workflow to work with two software for pattern-making and 3D modeling: Accumark & Blender. In the near future, Gerber will make it so we can use just Accumark to go from pattern-making to printing,” said Peleg. “By printing the soft materials in structures that are flexible, I got the textiles I wanted in order to create a dress that moves so beautifully.”
Before the first fitting, the industrious designer had never met Purdy. To make sure the dress would be a perfect fit right away, however, she used the Nettelo app to plug in Purdy’s measurements and offer the exact personalization needed.
“I loved the idea of creating a dress for Amy Purdy, a beautifully strong woman who is also a double-leg amputee. With an incredibly strong character and the help of technology Amy can walk, become a Paralympic medalist, dance with the stars, and now dance at this incredibly moving ceremony!” said Peleg.
After such an inspiring collaboration with both the ceremony’s creative team and Purdy, the designer decided to center a whole collection around the dress, now featuring five different designs—all to be released very soon.
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