3D Printed Fashion Hits the Victoria Secret Runway

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3D printing has been going steadily more mainstream for the last few years, with designers, and hundreds of shoe manufacturer’s like Nike getting involved with the process. But now, 3D printing has taken a step up from a cheap way to mass produce anything, and into the world of high fashion lingerie. That’s right, Victoria’s Secret featured a 3D printed costume on one of their models with wings, shoes, and the scant bit of lingerie she was wearing all produced by a printer. The process involved a bit of high-level math, a clothing architect, and more than a bit of cool design work.

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The Outfit

3D-printed-wings-at-the-victorias-secret-fashion-show-designboom-03The Victoria Secret outfit was designed to look like snowflakes with small snowflake wings, 3D printed bustier with a snowflake pattern, and matching boots. The whole thing is done in white and later encrusted with millions of Swarovski crystals to give it a high-fashion glitter. The entire costume was meant to mimic snowflakes, and it does a really good job.

The Process

victoria-swarovski-3d-printing-2Model Lindsay Ellington was first scanned with a 3-D scanner so that the wings and bustier could be printed to her exact body shape. Shapeway, the 3D studio behind the wings, then designed the entire outfit with the snowflakes on a computer, a concept which uses more math than most of us are comfortable with. Each part of the outfit was printed with layers of white nylon plastic (polyamide) to create a semi-flexible bustier and chest piece with angel wings for the model. The result was startlingly beautiful, and definitely something that looks more couture than high-tech. The corset and wings were designed by artist Bradley Rothenberg, who is most well known for being an architect. His design of the crystalline outfit for Victoria’s Secret earned him the title of ‘clothing architect’, although the process, which involved the new ‘laser splintering’ 3D printing, was likely a lot more complex that the title suggests. The whole outfit weighs about a pound and is only about .8 mm thick, making it an incredibly light and beautiful getup.

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What Makes This So Special?

While the most that Victoria’s Secret Angel Lindsay Ellington (who wore the costume on stage) could say about her outfit was that ‘this is high tech!’, it means something altogether different for the rest of us. Sure 3D printing has been around for a while, and sure more and more people are starting to adopt it, but adoption by major industry brands means that it could be taking off a little faster than we ever dreamed. If extremely mainstream companies like Victoria’s Secret are picking up 3D fashion, it might not be long before it’s mainstream enough to sell. While VS is not the first major fashion industry to adopt 3D (Lady GaGa, Nike, and several other well known names have already started 3D printed fashion ventures) – the idea of a major fashion brand picking up 3D printing is definitely an exciting one.

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In the meantime, Lindsay Ellington makes 3D printing look good, and women everywhere are undoubtedly wondering where they can get their own 3D printed snowflake wings.