3D printing inspires innovative new designs worn at the Met Gala!

Did you see the innovative 3D printed fashions at the Met Gala 2019? MyMiniFactory loved seeing what Zac Posen designed with Protolabs & GE Additive. Here's our take on their camp 3D designs!


a year ago

We love seeing additive manufacturing being embraced for innovation, especially when we can see it come together at the annual Met Gala!

Every year in May, The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute opens a new exhibition dedicated to fashion reflected in a certain theme. Previous themes have been Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty (2011) and China: Through the Looking Glass (2015). The exhibition opens with the museum hosting a spectacular event, described by Vogue’s André Leon Talley asthe Super Bowl of fashion”. As Talley states, “The world’s best achievers in all the spheres of music, film, Broadway, and fashion, as well as simple supernova personalities attend the gala,” all dressed to the nines in outfits based on said years theme. A tremendous amount of work goes into organizing the event. You can see just how much it takes to pull it off by watching The First Monday In May on Netflix, a documentary chronicling the events of the 2015 Gala - China: Through the Looking Glass.

This year, May 2019’s theme was Camp: Notes on Fashion, based on Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay, celebrating ‘Camp’ fashion: fun, exaggerated and humorously unnatural looks. The stars fully embraced this theme last Monday, the night of the gala, with big hair and even bigger, more innovative attire. While everyone was talking about Lady Gaga’s 4 layer ensemble, Billy Porter’s golden wings and Zendaya’s Cinderella moment, we had our eyes on a very particular 3D printed collection.

In partnership with GE Additive and additive manufacturing company Protolabs, renowned fashion designer Zac Posen engineered and innovated unique 3D printed ensambles and embellishments. Working with a team of engineers, scientists and 3D designers, including our old friend Protolabs, Posen and his team created 5 outfits that tested the limits of what additive manufacturing and fashion combined can produce.

The 3D Printed Rose

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Top of the list for 3D printed ensembles is Jourdan Dunn’s stunning Rose dress, designed especially for the Biritsh supermodel.

Engineered by GE Additive and manufactured at Protolabs’ North Carolina facility, the petals were printed with SLA, spray-painted and attached to a titanium cage. The color-shifting lacquer paint, illuminated Jourdan as she moved, so the petals appeared to shine as if they themselves were moving.

Constructed with 21 petals at $3,000 per piece, in addition to the titanium frame, this dress is valued at over $64,000.

More incredibly, when compared to Celine Dion’s hand beaded glittering goddess dress which took around 3,000 hours to make, Dunn’s dress was fully printed in just 1,000 hours, which reflects just how time effective additive manufacturing can be, while still producing high quality pieces.

The 3D Printed Clear Bustier

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 Nina Dobrev (from The Vampire Diaries) wore this SLA printed bustier over a dress of translucent fabric.

Protolabs printed this outfit from Somos Watershed XC 11122 material in one of their German facilities. Printing in 4 pieces, this 3D printed piece took 200 hours to come together.

Posen described it as an “homage to sculptures in a museum.” Look to the way Scan The World on our own platform use 3D scanning and printing to recreate just this kind of apprecition for the arts.

The back of the bustier features strands of plastic shooting off to resemble fabric billowing in the wind while remaining static, like an intransigent statue. 

The 3D Printed Vine and Palm

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Julia Garner & Katie Holmes went for 3D printed accessories at the Met Gala.

Posen designed this camp, crown-like vine headdress for Garner, plated in gilded brass.

Protolabs produced the crown in Nylon 12 using MJF, taking roughly a day to create. It perfectly matches her Greek goddess-esque silver gown, complete with wing-like drapes.

Of course, when thinking of the campest colors many people’s minds will probably jump to bright pinks and purples.

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For Katie Holmes’ Met Gala look, Posen and Protolabs created this purple palm leaf collar.

For Katie Holmes’ Met Gala look, Posen and Protolabs created this purple palm leaf collar. The piece was printed using SLA, this time with Accura 60 material, taking about 56 hours to completely 3D print.

The collar holds up on its own, and accentuates the exaggerated purple gown Holmes wore; made from 300 yards of Tulle fabric.

These two pieces show us the way 3D printing can also work with traditional manufacturing to elevate designs.

The 3D Printed Sea Creature Flourish

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Sticking with the high-camp colors, to accentuate some big hair, Posen dressed Bollywood star Deepika Padukone in a blush pink 3D printed gown.

The small silver accents adorning the body and train of the dress were 3D printed, and inspired by sea urchins and other underwater creatures. And, like everything in Posen’s collection, they were engineered by the talented folks at GE Additive. Protolabs printed all 408 trimmings in Acura 5530 while Posen and his team embroidered them onto the dress.

This delicate work was completed in 160 Hours, a truly collaborative and efficient effort!


The MET Gala shows us just how many industries continue to be impacted by the innovation and unrestrained techniques of additive manufacturing. Through his concepts and co-creation, Posen demonstrates just how divergent fashion designs can be when paired with the right tools. . Plus, after embracing the process of designing for 3D printing, Posen realised he loved the lack of restriction saying, “I spent so much time looking at all the materials and the different structural weights; GE Additive did all the engineering, but I really loved learning what was possible.” Now, he genuinely believes it’s the future.

Seeing how 3D printing and companies like Protolabs and GE Additive, are making such strides across all fields should inspire you as empowered 3D designers and makers to stretch the limits of your imagination and create whatever you deem possible.

Has this camp couture inspired you to create your own 3D printable wearable pieces at home? If it has, be sure to share them with the world on MyMiniFactory by uploading them to your designer profile! You can also share them with us and our community on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or the Reddit discussion page.

Stay fabulous Dahlings!