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2022 Met Gala: 3D Gowns from Iris Van Herpen Steal the Spotlight

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3D printed fashion has become more ubiquitous over the past couple of years and is no stranger to the Met Gala. However, it’s not the only futuristic method being applied to fashion, as Senior Editor Sarah Saunders learned while visiting Kornit Headquarters. At this year’s event, designer Iris van Herpen presented four unique gowns that included elements of laser cutting techniques.

This year’s Met Gala theme was “In America: An Anthology of Fashion,” which focused on the grandeur of the Gilded Age. The dress code was Gilded Glamour, where guests were to interpret 19th-century clothing through a modern lens, to which Iris responded vividly. As a pioneer in 3D printed fashion, van Herpen has been incorporating manufacturing technology into the construction of her garments for over a decade. At this year’s event, she explored the 19th century through a laser cut lens.

Dove Cameron. Image courtesy of Iris van Herpen on Instagram.

Actress and singer Dove Cameron shined in van Herpen’s  ‘Spiral Nebula’, a custom, all-white gown layered in organic structures that reference actual spiral nebulas in the cosmic world. The designer’s dress fit the Gilded Glamour theme by drawing upon embroidery of the 19th century, which was then turned into fine yarns that were hand-embroidered outwards from the tips of the sleeves and hem. The gown explored the intersection of traditional techniques with current modern-day technology. Layers of white fabric were combined with recycled mylar and then laser cut and stitched onto a template and integrated into the dress. The dress took over 600 intensive hours of work by ten people.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Dove claimed, “The gilded age was all about using new technology and textiles to make grand fashion, grand design, and cutting-edge designs that no one had ever seen before. I think that Iris and I wanted to carry that same intention into tonight and have a modern and futuristic take on the Gilded Age.”

Winnie Harlow. Image courtesy of Iris van Herpen on Instagram.

Supermodel and activist Winnie Harlow arrived on the red carpet wearing van Herpen’s “Transmotion” dress, a flowing white and black gown. Exhibiting flowerlike features, the gown included white petals sticking out at the top, and a front embellished with laser-cut black branches as an homage to Japanese American artist Ruth Asawa. In addition, black crystalline filaments fanned out of the dress, representative of a flower’s pollen-producing stamen. Van Herpen originally debuted the dress digitally during Paris Haute Couture Week Autumn/Winter 2020. Harlow paired the dress at the Met Gala with the “Mind in Motion” kinetic crown, produced in collaboration with artist Casey Curran.

Fredrik Robertsson. Image courtesy of Fredrik Robertsson on Instagram.

Swedish creative director and fashion icon Fredrik Robertsson (who was often mistaken for actor and musician Jared Leto) wore van Herpen’s ​​Quantum jumpsuit on the red carpet. In an interview with Klarna, van Herpen stated that she drew inspiration from the transformation and movement of her dance background.

She said, “Everything that I do is about transformation, is about movement. It’s about extending the body into this transformative spirit. This comes from my dance background when I was dancing. It was really my focus on that transformative motion on how fluid we are as human beings.”

Made with sustainability in mind, the Quantum jumpsuit was crafted from upcycled fabric. The material was first digitally printed and then heat bonded to recycled mylar. The “feathers” on the dress were made from 3D laser cut panels and then attached to the garment. The jumpsuit took over 750 hours to create by 12 people.

Teyana Taylor. Image courtesy of Iris van Herpen on Instagram.

Actress, dancer, and musician Teyana Taylor dazzled the red carpet wearing van Herpen’s “Mythosphere” gown. The dress consisted of purple hues of tie-dyed silk with a cutout bodice and puffy sleeves.  Her gown was accompanied by a futuristic headpiece of sterling silver dubbed the “Psyche” mask. The mask was made in collaboration with van Herpen and Malakai. Some of Malakai’s other couture pieces, such as the Lemuria headpiece, combine digital technology with handcrafted artistry.

Since her first 3D printing debut in 2010 with the Crystallization 3D printed shirt, van Herpen has continuously innovated, creating 3D printed pieces for renowned celebrities, including Grimes, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, and more. While it’s common to see 3D printing being utilized in the fashion industry as a new way to perform old techniques, van Herpen combines the technology with traditional methods to create innovative designs and worlds.

In an interview with Klarna, Iris stated, “My designs have evolved throughout the years in different ways… The techniques have evolved so radically that the transformation and movement is now literally embodied within the techniques rather than it being an inspiration… I think a big part of the experimental process is also based on having an idea that is not realistic now, but you come back to it many years later, and then it actually works. It’s about bringing different people and disciplines together and making the impossible happen…. The greatest motivation behind my work is about widening the vision towards what fashion is, what fashion can be, and where it can go towards.” And that’s exactly what she did at this year’s Met Gala.

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