The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Gala is the crown jewel of the New York social scene. The theme of this year's fundraiser was camp. According to CNBC, this is a concept described by Susan Sontag in her 1964 essay, "Notes on Camp." She described camp as the "love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration." In my mind camp conjures up images of John Waters films, Rocky Horror Picture Show or even the B-52s. The genre garnered public attention in the campy Hollywood musicals of the 1940's. It's all about providing sophisticated amusement by virtue of having artificially mannered, banal or sentimental qualities. The origin of camp is uncertain, but it may be the French se camper, "to put oneself in a bold, provocative pose."
This theme set the stage for Zac Posen's unusual partnership with GE Additive and Protolabs to dress celebrities Jourdan Dunn, Julia Garner, Nina Dobrev, Vito Schnabel, Gia Coppola, and Katie Holmes in 3-D printed dresses tailored specifically for them. While the stunt made for a great photo opp, it's important for another reason: Posen just helped bring 3-D printing out of the maker space and into the spotlight with his haute couture. Future challenges in mass scale and growth might be thwarted by physical heft and lengthy printing times.
The average weight of a 3D printed dress is 30 pounds, according to public sector research firm, Government Technology. It took 1,100 hours to print and assemble the dress worn by Dunn and each petal cost $3,000 to print and finish. Holmes' fabric dress was adorned with a 3D printed collar piece that took 56 hours to produce, and Garner's headpiece was printed in 22 hours.
This proves designers are no longer limited by traditional manufacturing processes, freeing them to create garments that literally defy gravity. When scientists, engineers, and artists all work together the unimaginable is brought to reality. Additive Manufacturing (AM) is a core component to the supply chain of the future from GE's standpoint. Commonly seen in the automotive and industrial sectors, AM, also known as 3D printing, is a process used to create a physical object by layering materials one by one based on a digital model. Unlike subtractive manufacturing that creates its final product by cutting away from a block of material, additive manufacturing adds parts to create its final product. It is used today for custom tailored and on-demand production.
Two years ago Adidas announced a line of 3D printed shoes, called Futurecraft 4D. Production of the 3D printed sneakers is done using "digital light synthesis" - a production method from California-based company, Carbon. When the first batch of 3D printed Futurecraft 4D shoes was released on January 18, 2018, demand outpaced supply and resale prices for the adidas Futurecraft reached $20,000, according to 3dprintingindustry.com. Whether at the Met Gala or in mainstream retail, 3D printing will only continue to infiltrate mass production.
Camp: Notes on Fashion opens tomorrow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.