Dita von Teese in the 3D-printed gown (Image via shapeways.com)

Dita von Teese in the 3D-printed gown (Image via shapeways.com)

3D-printed dresses might not be anything new — they’ve shown up on Paris runways already, covering models in intricate meshes and surreal shapes. But the new 3D-printed gown designed by Michael Schmidt and Francis Bitoni with the help of Shapeways is on another level.

The gown, which recently debuted courtesy of burlesque star Dita von Teese at the Ace Hotel, is fully articulated, meaning that rather than being a stiff 3D-printed structure that doesn’t conform to the body, it is loose and flowing. The material’s flexibility is clear from the photos — while the gown’s shoulders are solid and architectural, the body of the dress moves with curves rather than against them.

The video announcing the dress describes it as being based on the golden ratio, a connection of which there is little evidence (save perhaps in those shoulders), but it looks pretty cool anyway. The gown is formed from nylon powder that is hardened by laser in the 3D printer. The joints are then hand assembled, dyed black, lacquered, and, oh yeah, decorated with 1,200 Swarovski crystals.

Hussein Chalayan's F/W 2013 line (Image via mymoma.tumblr.com)

Hussein Chalayan’s F/W 2013 line (Image via mymoma.tumblr.com)

As the materials that 3D printing can be used with evolve, it will be possible to create a greater variety of objects with the process, some as delicate and subtle as cloth, others as large and stable as a house’s foundation. It’s not just 3D printing that’s innovating in fashion, though; I’m a big fan of designer Hussein Chalayan’s dynamic, technological dresses that transform in an instant, as a recent series of GIFs show.

While 3D-printed fashion leads to some interesting materials, it doesn’t exactly lend itself to the shimmering softness of silk quite yet. But who knows when the tide will turn, and 3D-printed tailoring is the mainstream rather than the extreme?

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Kyle Chayka

Kyle Chayka was senior editor at Hyperallergic. He is a cultural critic based in Brooklyn and has contributed to publications including ARTINFO, ARTnews, Modern Painters, LA Weekly,...