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Who says 3D printing can’t be high fashion? In this episode, Tom Hazzard and Tracy Hazzard rave about a cool, high-end couture 3D printed fashion product designed by Michael Schmidt and Francis Bitonti of Studio Bitonti. Worn by Dita Von Teese in a 2013 event, they take a deeper look into its intricate design, which reveals so much more than meets the eye. This conversation shows the many ways technology can inspire you to create, push the boundaries of your industry, and deliver a bold and creative message for other aspiring artists.
Listen to the podcast here:
Couture 3D Fashion Design
We’ve got a cool high-end couture fashion product to talk about.
This isn’t new. It’s from 2013. It was designed by Michael Schmidt and Francis Bitonti of Studio Bitonti. It was for Dita Von Teese. It was designed for an event at the Ace Hotel in New York. It was designed to fit her perfectly. It’s a gown.
It’s a completely custom gown.
If you want to talk about couture, it is supposed to be handmade. This is maybe made on a machine, but you remember, sewing is done on a machine. That’s not all that different. It is completely custom made to fit her body perfectly and do some amazing things.
This is a runway dress, no question. This is something a star could wear to the Academy Awards or any other major fashion event. You are going to get photographed tons wearing this dress and get a lot of free press.
What I thought was cool about this is there are many different textures and everything on it but it has an up-close and distant quality to it. It reads differently in both directions. That’s the power of what 3D printing can do in general anyway. You have a different feel from a distance that you do up close. You would never guess that it was 3D printed. You’d be curious to know, “How is that made? What is that? I’ve never seen anything like that. How did they do it?” The closer you get to it, the more it would surprise you.The power of what 3D printing can do is how its products can give you a different feel from a distance than you do up close. Click To Tweet
There’s much depth and beauty to this. It’s full length. It’s from shoulder to toe. It’s a full-length dress, the lower flowing portion of it into the mid-waist and then up over the shoulders. It has qualities where it looks like a great couture dress and it could be that. It also looks like it could have easily come out of a sci-fi movie but not in an extremely modern way, just in the statement that it’s making.
It makes a futuristic statement. The other part is interesting. Part of this is why no one thinks about 3D printing being applicable to fashion is because it’s probably not all that comfortable to wear. It doesn’t seem like it’s an everyday option and choice. It has a good fit here for something that you would wear on a runway, you’d wear for a statement, you’d be doing it for effect. Who knows? There is a lot of runway fashion. There’s a lot of Academy Award fashion that’s questionable as to it being comfortable, to begin with anyway. It’s made out of traditional fabrics. What’s the difference?
A lot of times, these stars are hand-sewn into their dresses before leaving to go to the event.
It’s also glued into them. I can imagine you might end up glued into this dress. It’s an interesting concept to go through and do something like this as a project. Thinking about it, it’s a complete challenge in terms of making it flow like fabric and making these things happen. It does have that look on the bottom of the skirt that it’s flowing. If you use that term, it probably isn’t in effect when she walks but it looks like it’s flowing.
It’s a lot more flexible than certain other parts of the dress, for sure. What I like about the dress as a design overall, and calling it a dress is doing it a disservice, it is a gown. It’s couture fashion. You touched on it a little bit but I want to get even more specific with it. From a distance, it has a lot of depth and detail and visual appeal. There are details on it that you cannot notice and see from far away. When you get up close to it, there are other levels of detail in terms of textures, more layered and geometric details that you would see closer up only.
In normal fashion, I would call it embellishment, but it doesn’t seem like embellishment here. It’s such an integral part of the design. It doesn’t have that effect on it. We wanted to bring this out to you. We know that there’s been the nervous system dress that’s been out in the 3D print world for quite some time. They algorithmically determined how that flowed but they did have to figure out the fashion portion of it, how you make it fit the body and how you do that. That didn’t come from that. It’s the pattern of how the things were attached and how it printed small. We haven’t talked about that in a while. I haven’t seen anything new come out. We’ve never been a big fan of the Airwolf one that the Airwolf girl wears at the events because it’s attached to a fabric.
It’s hexagons glued to fabric. They’re 3D printed but to me, that missed the mark.
When you see something good like this, we have to talk about it more and we have to make sure that you guys haven’t missed this even though it’s a few years old. I’m not seeing enough of this happening in fashion beyond the school systems. I’ve been seeing a lot of FIT and FIDM Fashion Institutes working on them. I’ve seen these programs coming out and having some of this 3D print collections, but I’ve not been seeing it done as much in mainstream fashion houses or anything like that. There’s a place for it. There would be a lot of fun for 3D print accessories and these things. Think about the limited run that you could make of things.
It makes total sense. They’re going to need some serious designers who know CAD on staff or at least CAD technicians on staff that designers are giving direction to in order to be able to pull off these things. That whole fashion industry is accustomed to creating a new design every day or every week even.
It’s as not as fast as that.
There’s an expectation that if you’ve got the right material and you can cut a dress and sew it together, it takes some work, maybe 12 or 20 hours or something, but then you have to be done. I’d be surprised if that dress wasn’t 500 hours of work to achieve that and maybe closer to 1,000.
It’s 500 of design time and probably another 500 of printing time to get it right.There's a finite amount of time between now and the end. There's so much to learn, and the sooner you start, the better. Click To Tweet
It certainly was effective. Whatever amount of time it took was well-worth it in this case. It’s impressive. If you haven’t seen it, make sure to go to the blog post and check it out. There will be some photos there and also links to the designer’s website that feature this.
We have some of the other fashion that we’ve been looking at and checking out. You’ll see some other photos as well in that. You said something interesting I want to go back to. It doesn’t incorporate into their daily work process, the workflow that they already have. That’s interesting because that’s how I first felt when you brought me 3D printing as a concept and as something that we would bring into it. At that time, we were doing mostly furniture. It was so much faster and much more efficient for us to have our sample shop, to have the big prototypes made, and have it made full size. I was like, “Why would we make minis when we could make the full size, sit on it and check it out, and sit at it and pull the drawer? We could test it in its final materials. Why would we make a tiny simulation of it? It doesn’t make sense. The computer is good enough for where we go to next or our sketch is good enough.”
That’s interesting but after having explored it and having built the skills in it, I have a different perspective now. I’m thinking about all the forms that I can’t create, all the designs that I can’t do. If you’re a studio out there, if you’re a small design firm out there, it’s worth getting your feet wet. It’s worth diving in and that’s what we’re about here on WTFFF?! What the FFF in this case is we’re talking about is fashion, but it’s worth getting in and seeing if the technology itself inspires you to create a different creative message, a different artistic statement in what you’re doing. It might transform the creative side and not be as important to the manufacturing or production side or sampling side of things. It might give you something that you didn’t expect.
It’s funny how we see this happening again and again in the desktop 3D print industry. You have that perspective, “How is this going to fit into what we do? Is it going to make sense? This is just a toy Tom wants to buy.” You didn’t think it was a serious business opportunity at the time.
I was intrigued by it, enough to keep thinking about it. I thought, “Is it going to be such a disruption to our daily business and not have net result?” The reality is, it doesn’t have a net result in terms of being of service. We don’t use it with many clients. We use it occasionally. We use it a lot in our business in a way I never expected.
What I’m also thinking of is remembering our interview with Cindi Schulze, who is the teacher from San Diego that helped develop curriculum to integrate 3D printing into middle school. I remember, she first said when the principal of the school or some administrator in her school came to her and said, “We have access to a 3D printer. Would you like one in your classroom?” She says, “No. I don’t even know what I would do with it. It will be a distraction to my students. I do not want it in my classroom.”
The next summer, someone approaches her and pays her to help develop a curriculum. By the time she does that over the summer and she gets into the next school year, we talked to her after that first full school year had been passed. She’s at the point where she could not imagine having her classroom without a 3D printer in it. There are many different ways it gets used and integrated into the education. It’s now become integrated into it. It makes perfect sense to her. I like how that keeps happening. It happened with you. It happened with her. You have this initial aversion to it or caution with it saying, “I don’t know. I can’t see it.” It ends up turning around.
We have a new approach here on how we handle things. Instead of asking why we should do something, we ask, “Why not?” I have a little bumper sticker that I got from a sustainability council that says, “Why not?” That’s the message. Why not try 3D printing? You don’t know what’s going to happen. Why not do it?
Here’s the thing that I keep realizing and what I keep telling people when they’re like, “I’ll get to it next month. I got to wait until I have a little more time to do it or wait until I have a little more budget.” I always tell them, “There’s a finite amount of time between now and the end.” There’s so much to learn. The sooner you start, the better. The more you wait to learn, it’s going to be that much longer before you achieve a certain level, achieve that goal. No time like the present to jump in and get started.
Start figuring out what you want to print and then go for it. We hope that this episode has inspired you again. It will be at 3DStartPoint.com. You can send us messages and check out images that we post up in our social media, @3DStartPoint.
Thanks for reading, everybody. This has been Tom and Tracy on the WTFFF?! 3D Printing Podcast.
- Michael Schmidt
- Studio Bitonti
- FIDM Fashion Institutes
- Blog Post – previous episode
- Cindi Schulze – previous episode
- @3DStartPoint – Twitter
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