EXCLUSIVE: Victoria’s Secret in 3-D
“This is a new way to make a garment that’s never been done before,” explained Shapeways industrial designer Duann Scott from the heart of the brand’s Long Island City factory. He’s talking about 3-D printing—the process by which a pulsed laser cuts through layers of heated powdered materials (such as nylon, powered plastic, sterling silver, gold, even sandstone) to create computer-calculated shapes and designs. Shapeways is one of a handful of companies bringing 3-D printing, a technology traditionally used by architects and engineers, to the public market. In the past, it has been used to create everything from hearing aids to museum interiors; Dutch designer Iris Van Herpen was one of the first to apply the process to wearable items. Now, Victoria’s Secret is introducing 3-D-printed designs—just in time for its big fashion show on November 13.
“It’s exciting that we get to use this—we’ve never done it,” related Victoria’s Secret collection design coordinator Sarah Sophia Lidz. “It’s the first time, and it will be perfect for this section, too. It’s called Snow Angels, and it’s really a nod to the iconic Victoria’s Secret theme, with beautiful white wings inspired by snowflakes, snowfall, frost, the northern lights—there’s a lot of Swarovski.”
The 3-D-printed item in question is a Swarovski Crystal-encrusted corset, modeled to look like a snowflake, encasing the model Lindsay Ellingson’s body. It was designed off a full-body scan to fit Ellingson exactly.
“We’ve seen some 3-D printing in fashion, in the haute couture in Europe. So it’s been very rigid things, very artful things, but nothing that’s been nice to wear,” added Scott. “This is the first piece for a mainstream brand—with a focus on the elegant, sensual form—not just rigid and stiff and alien-like. It’s wearable.” The corset debuts exclusively above.
As for what’s up next in the 3-D sphere, Scott offered, “We’re seeing an evolution in the materials that we can use in 3-D printing.” As more and more designers turn to 3-D printing, more and more pliable fabrics will be developed. “But the interesting thing about 3-D printing and design is, traditional fabric is either a stitch or a weave, and maybe a chain mail in there, but with 3-D printing, we can do all three of those simultaneously, in one garment, in one material,” added Scott. “So there are new ways to control the way the fabric falls and reacts to the body. There is lots of room for evolving the garment.”