Digital manufacturing company Protolabs made it to the Met Gala this year.
Famed American fashion designer Zac Posen revealed that his four designs on the Met Gala’s pink carpet Monday night were a collaboration with the Maple Plain-based Protolabs as well as additive engineering manufacturer GE Additive. The collection of 3D printed garments and accessories were inspired by the concept of freezing natural objects in motion, Posen says.
“You cannot beat Mother Nature,” Posen told the New York Times. "You can just homage.”
The collaboration combined elements of fashion design, computer aided design, and 3D printing for a line of garments unlike any seen on the pink carpet—or anywhere, for that matter—before.
“I dreamt the collection, GE Additive helped engineer it, and Protolabs printed it,” Posen says.
Known for inducing mouth-dropping fashion designs, the Met Gala is an annual invitation-only fundraising gala benefiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City. Like a high-dollar costume party, this year’s gala was attended by about 550 celebrity guests sporting attire fitting this year’s theme of “Camp,” inspired by Susan Sontag’s essay titled “Notes on ‘Camp’” and meant to be a comment on current cultural climate.
Five Met Gala attendees, in addition to Posen himself, donned pieces of the collection.
The most robust and complicated of the designs—a 30-plus pound gown designed to look like a glistening red rose in bloom— was worn by model Jourdan Dunn, and made of 21 total petals averaging 20 inches in size. The petals, made of a durable plastic, were printed on a stereolithography (SLA) machine, finished with a color-shifting automotive paint, and fastened to a titanium cage. The printing and finishing of the gown took more than 1,100 hours.
Katie Holmes stepped out in a palm leaf collar accessory that was also part of the collection. The purple pearlescent palm leaves draped her shoulders and attached to her gown, also designed by Posen, at the neckline. The accessory took more than 56 hours to print and finish.
Actress and model Julia Garner flashed an intricate vine headpiece printed as a single piece and finished with brass plating that took more than 22 hours to print and finish.
Nina Dobrev wore a dress with a 4-piece assembled plastic printed bustier, designed to look like glass, that took more than 200 hours to create.
The final piece of the collection was a printed plastic and vacuum metalized embroidery sewn onto a pink gown worn by Deepika Padukone. It took more than 160 hours to print and finish.
Posen himself flashed Protolabs-printed palm leaf brooches, mimicking the design of the piece worn by Holmes, on his tuxedo.
All dresses were fitted to 3D recreations of the wearers’ bodies for an exact and customized fit. The designs worn by Dunn, Holmes, Garner, and Dobrev were printed at Protolabs’ 3D printing facility—one of the largest in the world—in Raleigh, North Carolina. Dobrev’s was printed at the Protolabs facility in Germany. Protolabs made it possible for Posen's team to create custom polishes and paints for the pieces.
Protolabs and GE Additive have collaborated for many years on the development of 3D printing technology and production processes.