Fashion and Art are becoming more integrated all of the time. With the massive growth in the technology of 3D printing in the art community, it was only a matter of time before someone perfected the process enough to begin creating modern, and innovative fashion.
Enter Michael Schmidt.
Although Schmidt was never formally trained as a designer, he had known from a very young age that he was interested in the tactile sensation of clothing. “My focus has been adapting unusual materials to the body,” commented Schmidt. In 1987, Schmidt had his first big break when he designed a dress made out of chainmail, that Annie Flanders printed on the cover of Details Magazine. The creation of this intricate and beautifully hand crafted chainmail dress rewrote Schmidt’s history forever. It was through a window at Diane B in SoHo, NYC that this dress and Michael Schmidt’s designs were introduced to performance icon Cher. After decades of working on creating fashion for various celebrities and musicians, he began to branch out into the realm of traditional installation art pieces.
“I was approached by my friends at the Ace Hotel with whom I have collaborated with in the past on some interior designing projects. They were hosting a symposium for Fall 2013 Fashion week on the phenomenon of 3D printing and how that may have ramifications for the fashion industry. “ He designed a gown that was drenched in classic Hollywood glamour inspired by the mathematical formula for the golden ratio, a spiral that is said historically to quantify ideal proportions of beauty. Partnering with architect Francis Betanti, Schmidt digitally sent his sketches to Betanti who transformed them into a digital code. Since Schmidt and Betanti are separated by 9 states and 2,700 miles, they did the majority of their collaboration through skype draping the virtual gown on a digital three-dimensional representation of Dita Von Tease’s body. Schmidt, with his support team had designed the World’s first fully articulated dress with 3D printing technology for burlesque icon Dita Von tease.
This new technology is growing and changing all of the time. Traditional printers are limited in their flexibility because they only function in two dimensions. Unlike their antiquated counterparts, the 3D printer works in an additional dimension, including length, width, and depth. The printer lays down a fine layer of powdered material, similar to nylon, and a laser solidifies the powder according to the design. Another layer is deposited; the laser hardens that layer and so on and so forth. The residual powder is vacuumed away and you are left with a tangible, tactile product.
“The challenge is how to take this structural material and make it wear able,” added Schmidt. This gown is unique because it has 3,000 articulated joints that give it the flexibility, grace, and movement that designers often strive for. The gown was printed by Shapeways, a 3D printing community based out of New York, in 17 sections, which were shipped out to LA to be dyed, assembled, and fastened. The gown was finally embellished by hand with well over 12,000 Swarovski crystals.
“The beauty of this technology,” considered Schmidt, “is that we can create forms that are unimaginable, un-creatable in any other way. The human hand can only do so much before you need technological intervention.” This incredible innovative process leaves only the imaginations of designers and artists as limitation to creativity.