Haute Couture has comfortably integrated 3D printing into the ranks of the methods used to produce garments as art. Now, thinkers and makers in 3D printing are exploring ways in which the technology might be integrated into the production of the ready made clothing that those of us who won’t appear on the catwalks will be wearing. Leading the way in this exploration is Austrian-born architect and lecturer at UCLA Julia Körner, fresh from a recent collaboration with Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen.
As printable materials are developed and refined that allow for greater flexibility and variations in density, the potential for the production of garments to move from the realm of haute couture, to more widely available ready to wear, increases exponentially. This could eventually mean that rather than having a piece altered for the best fit, it could conceivably be printed already perfectly tailored to each individual. Körner explained:
“Body scanning and 3D modeling techniques allow you to design towards a perfect fit, and through minimal changes in the code I can create variations of adaptations in the design. This automated process is a revolution in customized fashion pieces within read to wear. Now that materials inherit textile performance, I believe the technology adds an incredible advantage to fashion design. It is now possible to custom fabricate a garment which fits perfectly without refitting.”
Given the use of 3D printers to produce everything from pasta to pacemakers, it is not surprising that its sartorial possibilities are capturing the imagination of leading thinkers in design. The connection between architecture and high fashion is stronger than might initially be apparent and has been for quite a long time. In the case of 3D printing, it is a cross-disciplinary collaboration between makers in architecture and fashion that has been particularly fruitful.
Its allure lies not only in the sexy technology, but also in the capabilities for infinitely customizable products with no addition to cost. Körner described her vision for the impact of 3D printing on the ready to wear garment market:
“Digitally crafted fashion pieces can be custom fit as well as custom changed per individual. This means, if you have a 3D file of the fashion garment, only a few changes need to be made in the algorithm and the pattern, size, design of the whole piece changes in a few seconds. This parametric design process derives from architectural design and allows for custom mass fabrication, which will have a big influence on online shopping and the whole fashion industry.”
Körner and van Herpen’s collaboration has led to the creation of pieces such as the Hybrid Holism Dress and the Biopiracy Dress; futuristic pieces writhing with tentacles and flowing fringe. These pieces look like something that Alien might wear if she (?) were to have a fashion show just before being blown out the airlock by Sigourney Weaver. One thing that remains the same are the ultra-thin supremely tall beings that model the clothing. The footwear featured with these collections nearly completely camouflages any recognizable foot form, further enhancing the illusion of the models as creatures hailing from other worlds.
The intricacies of the patterns and layers that can be created via additive manufacturing is captivating albeit a far cry from the ready made market Körner hopes to address. Other designers, such as Katya Leonovich, are showing more clearly the connection between beautifully crafted high fashion clothing and more familiar textile based forms.
The biopiracy collection, designed by Körner and van Herpen and printed by Materialise will be on the runway in the Ready to Wear Paris Fashion Show this March. Materialise detailed the technology behind this collection:
“For this dress, Iris van Herpen returned once more to Materialise’s flexible material for 3D Printing, TPU 92A-1, which she used to great effect for her Voltage Haute Couture show in January last year. For the Biopiracy Collection, Iris and Julia worked together on a design that successfully pushed the limits of what both TPU 92A-1 and Laser Sintering (the process used to print this dress) could do, with Materialise’s Magics software being used to optimize the design for the 3D Printing process and ensure a successful outcome. The result was then coated in silicon by Iris’s team to give the flowing, flexible dress a glossy sheen. Given the intricacy and movement of the design on the catwalk, the dress is a testament to how far 3D Printing materials and technology have progressed.”
Haute couture is a place for the exploration of ideas rather than a showcase for what to expect on the street. However, that doesn’t mean that it is divorced from the realities of garment design and production, only that our minds have to be expanded before our wardrobes can. Let’s hear your thoughts on these amazing 3D printed dresses, and 3D printed clothing in general, in the 3D printing & clothes forum thread on 3DPB.com.[Photographs by Michel Zoeter – Via Dezeen]
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