Machine Made Masterpieces

A look by Machine Maven, Iris van Herpen Photo courtesy of

A look by Machine Maven, Iris van Herpen Photo courtesy of

What if you were told to “think outside of the fabric store and a dress form” when creating a garment?

And we’re not talking “you’ve got one hour in the grocery store and a budget of $25 to create a red carpet look” Project Runway challenge.

If a trip to the fabric store was not an option, where would your creative mind go?

This week, we’d like to take a minute to feature a few futuristic machine-minded designers and the maker-bots they use to create their garments. For example, when Danit Peleg was creating her senior collection at Shankar College of Design, her mind went straight to 3D printing.

Out of her home.

Take a look:

And while Peleg created an entire collection from the comfort (and innovation) of her own home, her goals stretch far beyond a novel one-time-only  romp at 3D printing. In fact, Peleg has partnered with technological pattern powerhouse, Gerber, to develop a technology that will “improve product development through a full range of integrated solutions, enhancing the overall experience throughout the supply chain.”

She envisions both a streamlined production model as well as the everyday consumer one day printing the outfit they would like to wear—the morning they would like to wear it.

Peleg is far from alone when it comes to designers thinking beyond fabric in terms of design. Meet Amy Karle, a designer inspired by human anatomy. For her, 3D technology is used to scan the body to ensure a proper fit, then she cuts her garments using a laser printer as seen here:

Currently, Karle is part of Autodesk’s Pier 9 Residency Program as she works with fellow artist Michael Koehle using a 3D to 2D to 3D transfer method. Learn more about their process here.

This post would not be complete if we failed to mention Iris van Herpen. A true visionary in terms of using technology to its fullest extent, she combines 3D printing, laser cutting and various bonding agents and temperatures to create masterful garments that grace the body. Of her Spring 2018 collection, Amy Verner of Vogue wrote (and so eloquently, I found it impossible to cut up and paraphrase),

She is a prodigious replicator of nature, using processes that defy fashion. An observational interpretation of the first dress would make note of its quivering scales, undulating shapes, and exceptional lightness. Its technical specs outlined foam-lifting and laser-cutting of a parametric pattern heat-bonded onto invisible tulle. The dresses with perforated patterning consisted of nude leather and liquid fabric bonded to Mylar as an interlocking gradient. The structural shift from molded to fluid was remarkably seamless, as though the border between yin and yang had been punctured and dissolved. Her 3-D printed illusion fabric innovations—see the series midway through—have become so precise that you feel she is resurfacing the topography of the human body.”

Just feast your eyes on the following—innovation or not, there is no denying the beauty of the form as it pairs with function in van Herpen’s looks.

Iris Van Herpen Spring 2018 Photo courtesy of

Iris van Herpen Spring 2018 Photo courtesy of
Iris van Herpen Spring 2018 Photo courtesy of

Iris van Herpen Spring 2018 Photo courtesy of

Iris van Herpen Spring 2018 Photo courtesy of

Iris van Herpen Spring 2018 Photo courtesy of

So technologically speaking, how are these garments made? From Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) in which a high power laser fuses together tiny particles to create a 3D object to Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)  in which a garment can be made by adding layer upon layer of a material to form a finished product, the tip of the 3D printing iceberg has been explored. And much like 3D printing itself, dedicated up and comers like Peleg are building on the layers that are in place as they look forward to the future of technology in fashion.

One point, we at the University of Fashion think is very important to make as we sing the praises of technology advancements in fashion is the critical component of understanding the body and its proportions before applying any technique to create a garment. In other words, a designer who does not understand accommodating for the apex or the proper rise of a pant is going to have difficulty fitting a garment, no matter how innovative the technology used. So while we are beside ourselves at the vast possibilities for designers of the future, we will always advocate for strong draping and pattern making skills and a thorough understanding of the bodies that will ultimately wear the clothing you design.

Tell us, tell us! What have we left out? What technology advancements are you most wowed by in the field of fashion? And please share the most innovative garments you’ve come across – we’d love to see!



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Kara Laricks is a regular contributor to the University of Fashion. She’s also a New York based women's wear and accessories designer. As the first winner of NBC's Fashion Star, Kara has designed collections for H&M, Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue. Her masculine meets feminine line, Kara Laricks, debuted at New York Fashion Week in 2012 and her S/S 2013 collection sold exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue. Kara's designs have been featured on the Today Show and HBO's True Blood as well as covered in Women's Wear Daily and on Kara holds Master's degrees in both Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Kansas and in Fashion Design from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. An educator turned designer, Kara is dedicated to supporting emerging designers and inspiring others to follow where dreams lead.