Fashion Trends

Weird Science: 3-D Printed Fashion

A favourite of craft hobbyists and haute couture designers alike, the 3-D printer is now being used to make everything from necklaces to dresses

3-D printed dresses at Iris van Herpen's Spring 2013 Haute Couture runway show

3-D printed dresses at Iris van Herpen’s Spring 2013 Haute Couture runway show

The latest big designer is…a machine! We’ve all been watching the development of 3-D printers—”Oh look! A tiny figurine pops out!”—but now, in what feels like a futuristic flash, sunglasses, jewellery, shoes and even gowns (not to mention stem cells) are being extruded. The process, also known as additive manufacturing, involves the printer laying down layers of material, usually plastics, in alternate patterns to build a structure. Interestingly, as the technology has become more affordable (the latest MakerBot Replicator 2 printer costs just $2,200), 3-D printing has become popular with craft hobbyists, and accessories born of code rather than pliers and soldering irons are now readily available on Etsy and eBay. This year, printed apparel walked the Paris runway for the first time; the conceptually forward Dutch couturier Iris van Herpen, loved by Gaga, Björk and Daphne Guinness, showed intricate “lace” and cocoon cocktail frocks. American designer Michael Schmidt spent four months on a body-spec specific dress for Dita Von Teese, made of polymer net reminiscent of fancy fruit protectors, with the help of architect Francis Bitonti and the 3-D printing company Shapeways. “[It’s] a medium for creating forms which could not be realized any other way,” says Schmidt.

Dita Von Teese's custom 3-D printed gown; Photo by Albert Sanchez

Dita Von Teese’s custom 3-D printed gown; Photo by Albert Sanchez

3-D-Necklace

Hot Pop Factory necklace, $60, hotpopfactory.com.

Material: ABS polymer

Print Time: 60 minutes

Made in: Toronto, ONT.

3-D-Earrings

Half Craft Studio earrings, $50, etsy.com.

Material: Selective laser sintered nylon, painted

Made in: Philadelphia, PA.

3-D-Rings

The Rouge and the Wolf rings, $40, etsy.com.

Material: Polyamide plastic

Print Time: 40 minutes

Made in: Huddersfield, England

3-D-Necklace-3

Geraldesign necklace, $180, shapeways.com.

Material: Polyamide plastic

Print Time: 40 minutes

Made in: Paris, France

3-D-Necklace-2

Rachel Timmins necklace, $335, racheltimmins.com.

Material: Laser sintered nylon, painted

Made in: Baltimore, MD.

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