Iris van Herpen debuted a stunning, innovative collection during couture week in Paris. Garments composed of silicone, glass, wire and metal swept the runway of the L’Oratoire du Louvre church. Highlights included a glass dress with a high-neck corset and flare skirt, covered in hand-blown glass balls and translucent silicone.
The line also consisted of a mini dress layered with manipulated rubber that resembled cymatic vibrations, as well an off-the-shoulder ensemble with geometric designs billowing outward.
Iris Van Herpen’s Autumn-Winter 2016 Couture Collection marks the latest 3-D Printing success within the fashion industry. Last year, Adidas and Parley for the Oceans produced 3D-Printed shoes composed solely of recycled oceanic plastic. Prior to the Adidas and Parley collaboration, uber-cool Dita Von Teese presented a 3D-Printed dress designed by Michael Schmidt and Francis Bitonti at the Ace Hotel in New York.
The succession of garments derived from 3-D Printing begs the question, what is 3-D Printing?
3-D Printing is a term used to describe technology that utilizes advanced printing techniques to produce tangible objects, including apparel and accessories. Fashion designer Kimberly Ovitz described how she utilized 3-D Printing to create pieces for her jewelry collection. According to Kimberly, “we used 3-D modeled [ the jewelry] and made our own moldings of it ourselves so we could get an idea of what we wanted. They [technicians proficient in 3-D modeling] transferred it over to their system and show me how one was printed. We used two materials: nylon and stainless steel. For the nylon, they start with a white cube and it gets lasered through the pattern of the digitization and everything else falls to dust. And then you have the piece.”
Despite the onslaught of technological advancements, 3-D Printing has captured the attention of the fashion industry because the high-tech machinery provides acute benefits to its members. Kimberly Ovitz noted, “I think it [ 3-D Printing] allows so many benefits-especially for smaller designers that can’t deal with volume and minimum issues. It kind of eliminates all that because you can do as intricate a design you want and as many prototypes as you want. There’s not as much of a waste of raw materials.” The fashion industry is the third largest institutional consumer of water, thus making conventional practices problematic in the current climate of rapidly shrinking natural resources. Also, designers can mold plastic and other manufactured articles that erode our ecosystem into structured commodities. For example, Adidas and Parley for the Oceans utilized approximately 16.5 plastic bottled and 13 grams of gill-net plastic for the production of each sneaker within its collection. In addition, its precise nature has the potential to make unique designs and custom clothing common-place; anyone who can buy the equipment can own beautiful, elaborate apparel that fits perfectly. In summary, 3-D Printing attracts fashion members because it permits the utilization of natural and synthetic materials to carefully construct clothing and accessories with incredible consistency and specificity.
Despite the unique and exciting benefits of 3-D Printing, the technology has ample room for improvement. Joris Debo, creative director of Materialise (3-D Printer Provider) noted the rigid, coarse texture of the early 3-D garments. Also, the technology requires a significant amount of time to create products. Danit Peleg, a former fashion student at Shenkar, noted that she spent over 2000 hours to print her graduate collection for her degree. Within a climate of fast fashion, Instagram and rapid seasons, many designers do not have the luxury of spending countless hours a collection.
Nonetheless, the benefits of 3-D Printing significantly outweigh the cons. The incessant technological changes warrant a future of quickly-produced products that resemble, both aesthetically and physically, traditional garments. As evidenced by Iris van Herpen’s spectacular 2016 Couture Collection, 3-D Printing provides the greatest opportunity for the ingenuity and creativity that is the cornerstone of the fashion industry.