Demna Gvasalia Just Made a Strong Case for 3D-Printed Luxury Fashion

“Demna Gvasalia’s fall 2018 show for Balenciaga was revolutionary for fashion,” proclaimed Cathy Horyn this week. “To my knowledge, it’s the first time a major luxury brand, and one with a legacy of architectural elegance to boot, has used 3-D printing and molding technology to produce tailored coats and suit jackets.” Leave it to Demna Gvasalia to put forth one of the most markedly wearable uses of 3D printing that high fashion has seen … maybe ever.

The Balenciga creative director is not the first to trot out models in technologically-forward creations. Iris Van Herpen has long owned this space, and Chanel produced 3D printed tweet suits as part of its Fall 2015 couture collection. But he is one of the first to make a convincing argument in its favor, to offer up garments that are more garment than (otherwise unwearable or not-so-easily wearable) science experiment. The latter is, after all, one of the more common takeaways when it comes to the use of 3D printing on the runway – a yield of even more avant-garde, “unwearable” garments (for all but those who throw practicality to the wind) than usual.

Demna, like adidas with its various 3D printed heels and other mainstream shoe components, proved that 3D-printed impracticality does not have to be the norm. The lineup of tailored Basque jackets of varying lengths, sculpted so perfectly to the models’ hips, were the printed product of Gvasalia and his team scanning the models’ bodies in 3D and creating individualized molds for each. From there, the tweed, houndstooth, and velvet fabrics were applied onto the molded jackets, which consisted of a single piece of cloth,” or better yet, a super-lightweight foam.

“All the tailoring you see is printed. There are only two seams, on the sides and the armhole. There is no construction and it’s only one layer of fabric,” Gvasalia said of the jackets.

The tangible result, according to Horyn, one of the industry’s most straight-shooting critics is a “tailored style [that] looks amazingly smooth and flat.” On a broader level, the collection’s 3D printed elements “give you a real idea of what clothing generally could look like in the future.”