Michael Schmidt Puts the Va-Va Voom into a 3D Printed Dress, and tells Rose Apodaca all About It

Dita Von Teese3-D printing has been applied to guns, food, prosthetic limbs, and of course architecture and product design.

It is also being experimented with by fashion designers, who find that one of the challenges is to make printed plastic move with the body. 

Michael Schmidt has spent 30 years cladding Cher, Madonna, Lady Gaga and other material girls in stunning costumes composed of unbendable materials: from legos to sterling silver links; Swarovski crystal to razor blades.

So when Schmidt set himself the challenge of creating a 3D printed dress, shown left, for burlesque model Dita Von Teese, he found a way of turning solidified plastic powder into a moveable fabric.

See the dress, realized in collaboration with New York architect Francis Bitoni, and hear how he made it at LACMA this Wednesday evening, when the Costume Council presents a display of Schmidt’s work and a conversation, between the designer and fashion writer and A+R co-owner Rose Apodaca.

According to the museum, “Schmidt will talk about his nearly three-decade career as artisan, costume designer, and installation artist. . .  They will discuss the award-winning documentary about Schmidt’s landmark New York nightclub, SqueezeBox; his Emmy-nominated work; his large-scale interior installations for public environs; and his work as special projects designer for Los Angeles-based luxury house Chrome Hearts.”

For more info on the event, which helps kick off the LA Design Festival, click here.

Rose Apodaca also interviewed Michael in advance of Wednesday’s event, especially for DnA, and you can podcast that interview starting Tuesday (June 11) afternoon; I spent time with both of them last week and was as usual amazed by Rose’s rapid-fire mind and extensive knowledge, and Michael’s easy charm and laughter. One often hears “fashion designer” and “highly strung” in the same sentence; in his case the adjective applies only to his chain-mail-like “fabrics.”

heelsThen, on June 27, you can see more of Michael’s work, on show, along with other 3D printed products, at the La Brea and Abbot Kinney branches of A+R, the design store Rose co-owns with Andy Griffith. That will be part of Design Shopping Night, when selected studios, shops, and showrooms will open their doors  for LADF visitors from 6pm to 9pm.  (Participating stores, in addition to A+R, include: Ligne Roset, Ilan Dei Venice, Matters of Space, Arcana, HD Buttercup, Modernica, Poketo, Knibb Design, and more.)

For more on the way in which 3D printing and other technological developments are affecting the fashion industry, read this article from the Los Angeles Times. And check out Janina Alleyne’s villainous heels, right. And here is a YouTube video of Michael, talking about the dress.