Chanel Widens Haute Couture Through 3D Printing


Lee-Bath Nelson  

Collection of Chanel suits that include 3D printed elements 2015

We’ve written about fashion designers using 3D printing extensively, but now 3D printing is getting a major nod from a fashion design icon. Karl Lagerfeld used 3D printing in this season’s classic Chanel suit, which looks eminently wearable and very chic. Of course, in haute couture, the initial 3D printed item was then hand embroidered and embellished into the beautiful suits we see but the underlying foundation is 3D printed.

Tweed Chanel suit with 3D printed foundations 2015

The collection was unveiled earlier this month in Paris Fashion Week in a casino setting featuring actresses as well as models. In an accompanying interview, Lagerfeld extolled the virtues of 3D printing in which no seams are necessary and the classic Chanel suit form of square shoulders and boxy jacket can easily be molded in one piece. Lagerfeld stated that 3D printing “widens haute couture” and predicted it will be used more and more in fashion. He also said that fashion designers should keep up to date on relevant technologies, like 3D printing, or become irrelevant. Coming from someone who has managed to stay relevant into his (rumored) 80s, that’s a strong endorsement. Lagerfeld did hasten to add that the final garments are Haute Couture with significant hand work and embroidery done post printing. Since he was vague in his comments there is speculation that both the tweed like suits, as above, and the quilted like suits, as below have a 3D printed foundations or grids, using Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), as their base. It is unclear how much of the entire collection of suits (part of it up top) incorporates 3D printing.

Chanel Suit with 3D printed foundation grid


Other fashion designers have used 3D printing in fashion, first and foremost among them is Iris van Herpen (see very bottom pic of her design named one of 2011 50 Best Inventions by Time Magazine). Her creations have a futuristic look and unlike the Chanel suit may seem uncomfortable to wear.

Noa Raviv 3D printed fashion torso

Noa Raviv Hard Copy Fashion Collection-3D Printed

Israeli fashion designer Noa Raviv used 3D printing as scaffolding for her fantastic creations in the Hard Copy collection (2 examples above), which is her graduation project from Shenkar Academy. Francis Bitonti and Michael Schmidt designed a form-hugging dress for Burlesque actress Dita von Teese (below). The dress is fully articulated with moving joints for most of its length. It was designed and 3D printed to Dita’s specific measurements.

Bitonti 3D printed dress detail

Icon Karl Lagerfeld embraced 3D printing; innovative Iris van Herpen is a veteran at 3D printing; young fashion designers like Noa Raviv as well as established ones like Michael Schmidt and Francis Bitonti are using it in their final garments. Are you?

Follow our 3D printed designs board on Pinterest for more inspiration or our Make a Living board for tips for those of you selling designs and products on your website.

3D printed ESCAPISM DRESS designed by Iris van Herpen


3 thoughts on “Chanel Widens Haute Couture Through 3D Printing

  1. The foundation grid is made of nylon and has some flexibility, so sitting in the Chanel suit should be OK and even comfortable. The Dita dress made with many joints so sitting is theoretically possible but maybe not practical because of the silhouette (same would happen with fabric in this silhouette). I don’t think the same can be said about the Iris van Herpen design, though.

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