Jan 24, 2018 | By Tess

As dazzling garment after dazzling garment went down the runway at the Galerie de Minérologie et de Géologie in Paris recently, we knew there could only be one designer behind them: Iris van Herpen.

Born in the Netherlands, the 33-year-old designer has become something of a pioneer within the fashion industry, consistently and ingeniously using 3D printing and other innovative technologies to create her inspiring designs.

Her latest collection, “Ludi Naturae,” proves once again that van Herpen is at the top of her game and is mastering the increasingly intersecting fields of fashion and technology.

Like many of her previous designs, Iris van Herpen drew her inspiration for the collection from nature. Specifically, from nature as seen from above. “I zoomed out and looked at the earth from above,” the designer explained. “I tried to find the forces behind certain forms, I was inspired by the patterns of chaos and structure.”

The result of this exploration is a stunning collection of flowing dresses; form-fitting, almost skin-like jumpsuits; and, of course, a few elaborate standout pieces. The garments captivated audiences at the Galerie de Minérologie et de Géologie with their ethereally light fabrics and undulant textures. As the models walked down the runway clad in van Herpen’s latest designs, some of them almost appeared to be floating.

The opening piece was undoubtedly our favorite of the collection, and not just because of its aesthetic. Dubbed “Foliage Dress,” the short, golden garment was created using Polyjet 3D printing technology.

At this point you may be thinking that the dress doesn’t quite look like other 3D printed garments and doesn’t appear to be quite as “plastic” as many other 3D printed clothes you’ve seen. You’re not wrong.

This particular dress was made using an new hybrid 3D printing method pioneered by van Herpen in partnership with a team of scientists at the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands.

Through the Crossing Parallels program (a collaboration between TodaysArt and TU Delft), van Herpen worked with the scientists to develop a method for combining 3D printed plastic with natural fabrics.

More specifically, the team used multi-material Polyjet 3D printing technology to print synthetic resin structures onto a piece of sheer tulle (with a thickness of only 0.8 mm). The multi-material printing process, which deposits droplets of resin which are then cured with UV light, enabled the designer to create subtle variations in the material’s color and transparency by simply interspersing different material droplets.

The tulle, for its part, provided an added level of softness both in terms of feeling and look. To accommodate the 3D printer’s relatively small size, the dress was separated into 300 x 300 mm pieces, which were then carefully assembled into the final dress form.

According to Jouke Verlinden, one of the scientists who worked on the project, the dress required over 260 hours of printing and 60 hours of manual labor to complete. “Until now, no one has succeeded in combining plastic with different properties in a good way with textiles, and we are proud of the result,” Verlinden added.

Interestingly, van Herpen says that much of the post-processing for the dress had to do with the natural deformation of the 3D printed structures. In other words, the dress walking down the runway looks much different that what initially came off the 3D printer. “This design is a fusion of precisely controlled digital 3D modeling and the less-predictable analog nature of deformation,” she explained to Vogue.

And while many might see van Herpen’s simultaneous fascination with nature and technology contradictory, the designer highlights one very important point:

“Don’t forget how engineered nature is, itself. I think we as humans don’t even come close to the intelligence within nature. It’s funny how people think that nature is simple and technology is complex—it’s the opposite; technology is simple and nature is complex.”

You can read more about Iris van Herpen’s previous 3D printed designs here:



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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