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Watch 3D printers weave a mesh dress around Brienne of Tarth

A reminder that 3D printing is bizarre and beautiful

It looks like the opening to a film by the Wachowskis, but this is just the latest fashion show from Dutch designer Iris van Herpen, a pioneer in the world of 3D printing. Van Herpen has been using the technology to create designs for years, but her most recent show — Quaquaversal — turns the 3D printers themselves into performers. While models stalk the catwalk wearing van Herpen's latest, three ancient-looking 3D printing arms weave a net-like garment around the prone figure of actress Gwendoline Christie, best known for her role as Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones (best seen from the nine minute mark in the video above).

"quaquaversal in its geometries."

Van Herpen says her inspiration came from the living tree bridges of India, which are made by shaping the aerial roots of banyan fig trees to provide walkways over rivers. "Gwendoline Christie lies in a deep-time dream, wearing a circular dress which is being woven upon her," says the blurb on van Herpen's website. "The live process blends different techniques — laser cutting, hand weaving and 3D printing into one dress, which spreads from the centre, quaquaversal in its geometries." ("Quaquaversal" means extending in all directions from a central point.)

This sort of implementation of 3D printing may sound frivolous compared to the technology's potential for creating, say, prosthetic limbs, but I find these sorts of wild visions quite inspiring. As well as putting 3D printed clothes on the catwalk at Paris Fashion Week, van Herpen has created objects like dresses made from iron filings and plastic resin sculpted by magnets. It's the type of work that seems to belong to science fiction, and brings a sense of wonder to the field in an over-the-top and surreal manner. Real innovation can’t exist, I don't think, unless you're at least a little bit amazed by what technology can do, and work like van Herpen's restores this sense of wonder.


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