Sep 18, 2015 | By Tess

Chicago, IL based fashion designer Laura Thapthimkuna has just launched a Kickstarter campaign for her new conceptual fashion project to be realized. The Vortex Dress, an entirely 3D printed dress design, was inspired by Thapthimkuna's own fascination with the galaxy, space, and specifically black holes.

In Thapthimkuna's previous work, which includes a 3D printed neckpiece, and various other conceptual, sci-fi inspired pieces (pictured below), she always felt limited by fabrics and has found in 3D printing an appropriate method to bring her other worldly designs to life. The Vortex Dress marks her first dress design to be entirely 3D printed, an ambitious and costly endeavour, and why she has enlisted the help of the online 3D printing and fashion communities through her Kickstarter campaign.

The dress design itself, inspired not only by images and renderings of space that Thapthimkuna is fascinated by, blends together both organic and artificial elements in a way that is reminiscent of H.R. Geiger, the man behind the visual design of the Ridley Scott film Alien, another one of her inspirations. The shiny, almost wet looking black finish of the dress paired with the intricate rib-like structure of it's design is striking and provocative.

In order to make the Vortex Dress a reality, Thapthimkuna first enlisted the help of UK based 3D designer Stephen Ions, who helped turn her images and sketches of the dress into a digital 3D rendering of it. The two, who never met face to face, collaborated tirelessly via email, skype, and design reviews to achieve the desired Vortex Dress' 3D design. Ions worked on the dress' design by way of the digital sculpting tool Zbrush.

"When I saw Laura's deisgn I was immediately excited and engaged at the prospect of creating this incredible piece and what's more seeing it being printed and transitioning into the physical world," says Stephen Ions, "I can honestly say this is one of the most incredibly rewarding pieces I've had the pleasure of working on in my 15 year career as an artist."

As Thapthimkuna adds of the initial process with Ions, "Together we were able to capture the feeling I wanted to convey through the dress; the spiralling and continual twisting of space and time."

With the Vortex Dress digitally rendered and some miniature prototypes additively manufactured, Thapthimkuna's work was nowhere near done. The next step in the designing process entailed tweaking the design and making it wearable in real life. For this, Thapthimkuna collaborated with New York based designer and artist, Patrick Delorey. Delorey's experience in both fashion and 3D printed fashion provided some insight into making the dress wearable, as he was able to help design closure mechanisms, fix structural and weight distribution problems, etc that were not apparent in the initial digital rendering.

He explains that when designing a 3D printed garment, which allows for extensive design freedom, practical issues such as how the garment will be supported by the body, how the model will put it on have to be considered. He adds, "Additive manufacturing allows the designer to deal with these issues in customized, specific ways that align with the design vocabulary of the garment rather than working against it."

Once the Vortex Dress' production has been realized, Thapthimkuna has several projects lined up for its exposure. Notably, the designer will collaborate with Chicago based film production studio Loose Cannon Films to create a short sci-fi film featuring the dress. It will be the second collaboration between the designer and the studio, as they also made a stunning short film featuring her 3D printed neckpiece. She also intends to present the dress in various exhibitions and museums as well as have it featured on fashion runways as well as at 3D printing specific fashion events.

In order to complete the full scale, wearable model of the Vortex Dress, however, Thapthimkuna needs to realize her Kickstarter goal of at least $9,000 by October 22, 2015. The $9,000 will cover the 3D printing process, which will be done by the 3D printing service i.materialise using stereo-lithography printing technology. The Vortex Dress will be printed in paintable resin. Also included in the cost is the dress' airbrush finish, which will be a black hi-gloss clear coat, pictured in the miniature model below. Thapthimkuna has chosen the California based color studio Creations n' Chrome to execute the final task of coloring the dress.

If the $9,000 goal is surpassed, Thapthimkuna will dedicate the extra funds to pay for previous expenditures of printing the miniature models and airbrushing them, as well as adding upgrades and extra rewards for contributors.

Notably, the rewards for the 3D printed Vortex Dress Kickstarter are original and extremely enticing. From high-quality prints of the dress' sketches, to a miniature 3D model of the dress on a model, to full-scale, airbrushed dress segments (which themselves are stately sculptural pieces), and many more extras, the rewards are definitely worth checking out. If the kickstarter goal is realized, all rewards are to be shipped out by November 30th, 2015, and the Vortex Dress will be unveiled in February and March of next year.

As i.materialise has said of the designer they are working for, "The two things you can never reproach fashion designer Laura Thapthimkuna for: simple-mindedness and tedium. This young designer melds fashion, art and science into objects that are not only utterly stunning but also provocative and scary."

The Vortex Dress, if hopefully realized, will be a stunning achievement not only for Laura Thapthimkuna herself, but also for the increasingly intertwining worlds of fashion and 3D printing. Together, and with innovative minds the likes of Thapthimkuna's, fashion reaches a whole different level of artistry, opening up new directions for designers, even enabling them to reach as far as outer space.

Below is Laura Thapthimkuna's Kickstarter Video for the Vortex Dress:



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chase wrote at 8/15/2016 3:26:04 AM:

That's not a dress...and stupid to even refer to it as such. It is in a class of artwork though I'm not sure what class that is. Taking a 3D fractal and force fitting it to be "carried" is not really using imagination or insight. It's a lazy ass artists way of skating by on an artiste tutor. In my humble opinion anyway.

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