Brooklyn Architect Creates 3D-Printed Dress for Dita Von Teese

By Janet Upadhye on March 19, 2013 1:05pm 

FORT GREENE — Forget needles and thread. 3D printing could be the next frontier for fashion design.

And architect Francis Bitonti is leading the pack with the creation of the first-ever fully articulated 3D-printed dress.

Bitonti, who lives in Fort Greene and has worked out of studios in Clinton Hill and Bushwick, is "dedicated to the application and research of new technologies, specifically smart materials and algorithmically generated form," according to his website.

And his gown, inspired by Fibonacci mathmatics and made for burlesque icon Dita Von Teese, made headlines when it was unveiled at the Ace Hotel earlier this month.

The black, futuristic, head-turner was the result of collaboration between Bitonti and designer Michael Schmidt.

Schmidt designed the dress on his iPad and then worked with Bitonti via Skype to create 17 uniquely crafted pieces and 3,000 joints. Shapeways, a New York-based 3D printing company, then printed the jigsaw puzzle of parts with hardened powdered nylon. Last, the hollowed pieces were painted black, garnished with crystals and carefully assembled to create the gown.

But Von Teese's hip-hugging look isn't the only thing up Bitonti's sleeve.

His other projects include a interactive architectural design in New Orleans where the roof of a room raises and lowers based on the amount of people in the space, giving it an intimate or spacious feel, laser wool textiles used in clothes by fashion designer Katie Gallagher and 3D printed functional metal furniture.

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