Iris van Herpen, the famed 3D-printed fashion designer best known for her other-worldly catwalk creations, has unveiled her latest collection in Palais de la Decouverte in Paris.
The visionary's Wilderness Embodied Collection opened to acclaim in the entry hall of the famous French venue on July 1st. The choice of location is key, as it is a building that celebrates scientific progress of all kinds and is therefore apt for van Herpen's use of 3D printing technology, which was instrumental in the creation of her first hybrid dress.
The dress proved that 3D printing does not have to be an "all or nothing" technique when it comes to design, as the technology and its abilities can serve a beautiful and functional part of the whole, complementing traditional craftsmanship - and not replacing it.
The dress was created by bringing together transparent stereolithography pieces along with traditionally-crafted materials for an eye-catching result. Fine pieces were designed on the computer before being optimised for 3D printing using Materialise's Magics software. The pieces are then brought to life on Materialise's Mammoth Stereolithography machines using a clear liquid resin. The pieces are then over-moulded in silicon by iris van Herpen's team, a process that demands great skill and took weeks to complete.
Account manager for Materialise Sven Hermans said of the latest collection: "For the first time we have worked with Iris van Herpen to produce a hybrid creation incorporating unique, transparent bone-like structures produced with Mammoth Stereolithography.
"Thanks to 3D printing the dresses are seamless and made to measure. It is exciting working with Iris van Herpen to bring her complex geometrical designs to life. 3D printing does what no other form of clothing manufacture can do when complex shapes need to be created quickly and as one piece."
Van Herpen first collaborated with Materialise in 2010, when she made her Crystallization Collection with the support of architect Daniel Widrig. The collection was unveiled during Amsterdam Fashion Week. This was followed by an exhibition of four pieces in 2011's Escapism Collection, with which Widrig was also involved. This collection debuted to critical acclaim during Paris Fashion Week-Haut Couture. A final piece for 2011 played a pivotal role in a show entitled The New Craft: Iris van Herpen and her Inspiration at the Central Museum Utrecht, in addition to taking to the runway in Paris with the Capriole collection. Known as the Skeleton Dress, this piece was made in collaboration with architect Isaie Bloch.
In January of last year, the designer revealed her second collection in collaboration with Block as a guest member of the exclusive haute couture club Micro Haute Couture. This time she brought the printed dress to the next level of aesthetics by having it metal plated with a bronze finish and later in the year she worked with architect Julia Koerner for her Autumn/Winter 2012/13 collection Hybrid Holism, in which she explored Mammoth Stereolithography. The result was a 3D-printed dress.
Finally, in January 2013, ready for an even greater challenge, an experimental new material TPU 92A-1 was put to use in creation of an ensemble that would be both flexible and tactile, yet complex in design, for van Herpen's Voltage Collection. Designed again in collaboration with Koerner, the piece's intricate lace-like texture was made with precision using laser sintering, achieving a design that would otherwise have been impossible to carry out.