We’ve seen a few instances over the years of high technology colliding with high fashion, but maybe never in a way as direct and striking as this.
3D printing has come to the world of fashion, and the latest example of this collaboration is the Voltage collection, which is currently being showcased at Paris Fashion Week. 3D printing refers to a very new way of creating goods – a model is designed using a CAD program, which is then sent to a 3D printer. There are tons of different 3D printers out there, all of which can use certain materials to build the desired product, layer by layer. Usually, the material in question is something hard, like plastics or metals, but lately the range of materials has been expanded to include softer materials like rubber and polyurethane. It’s that latter development that has made 3D printed fashion a possibility.
The Voltage collection is an 11-piece set from designer Iris van Herpen, 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys, and Materialise, which brands themselves as a software company dedicated toward working with additive manufacturing. Additive manufacturing refers to the fact that 3D printed objects are made from the ground up, layer by layer, as opposed to traditional fashion being cut from a larger piece of cloth, or a sculpture being created by chipping away pieces of marble or metal (subtractive processes).
The collection features a wide array of apparel, including a combination skirt and cape and a form fitting dress designed along with Julia Koerner, who is an architect and a UCLA professor. Both of those articles feature both hard and soft materials, and it sounds like that’s going to open up some new avenues in fashion. According to a co-designer, Neri Oxman, “the ability to vary softness and elasticity inspired us to design a ‘second skin’ for the body acting as armor-in-motion; in this way we were able to design not only the garment’s form but also its motion.” Oxman was largely responsible for the Imaginary Beings collection, a host of 3D printed articles based on mythology that debuted last year. This year’s Voltage collection aims to be a little more practical, producing articles that could actually be worn in daily life.