A collaboration between Victoria's Secret and Swarovski has seen 3D-printed lingerie hit the catwalk in New York. Architect Bradley Rothenberg was invited to help realize the one-of-a-kind design and 3D printing specialist Shapeways provided the technical know-how. The result is a sparkling, snowflake-inspired corset that provided one of the highlights during this year's Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

"I've always been interested in the fractal nature of snowflakes, so I wanted to do something that uses the simple mathematical equations that lead to the complex nature of snowflakes," Rothenberg tells Gizmag. "The second challenge was to take that natural beauty and make something that is wearable."

Utilizing laser-sintered polyamide, which is a nylon coated in Swarovski crystals, the team were able to create an eye-catching snowflake-like material that was then printed by Shapeways. The process involved generating an algorithm that could produce the interlocking 3D snowflake structure. Rothenberg and his team then generated several "fabric swatches" which allowed them to test the flexibility and usability of the fabric, before producing the first set of prototypes that were matched to a 3D scan of the model, Lindsay Ellingson.

"We also wanted to push the limits of the Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) process to see how thin we could print the material to be as textile-like as possible," says Rothenberg. "There was a constant back and forth between fittings and updating the digital model to get to the final design right."

And that final design is the striking 3D printed snowflake corset that hugs Ellingson's figure perfectly.

When working with new 3D printing technologies, Rothenberg is excited by the seamless process of fabricating 3D objects from simple 2D designs on his computer. Having always been interested in fashion, which Rothenberg considers "to be the first form of architecture", he is encouraged by the idea of where 3D printing can take the fashion industry.

"What excites me most about 3D printing is the idea of mass customization, so that every 3D printed piece can be customized to each user at no more cost than making everything standard," says Rothenberg. "In the future, it will also allow us to make new custom materials by 3D printing on a molecular scale. Think a material that can adjust to the temperature so that you are cool when it's warm and warm when it is cold. It allows for us to approach and make form that could not have been made before."

The 2013 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was held on November 13 in New York and will air in the US on December 10, 2013 on CBS.

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