3D Printed Fashion Show in Malaysia: Melinda Looi
3D Printed Fashion is becoming a global phenomenon. Recently I wrote about the 1st ever fashion show in Asia that took place in June ’13, focusing on the first part of the show featuring accessories. The second part of the show featured five pieces created by Melinda Looi in collaboration with Materialise.
Melinda Looi is a successful, multiple award winning Malaysian fashion designer, and is perhaps the most well recognized Malaysian designer worldwide. Daughter of a respected tailor, Looi earned the Malaysia Young Designer Award in 1995 for her graduation collection at the La Salle School of Fashion in Montreal, Canada. In addition to numerous other awards, Looi has won twice the prestigious Designer of the Year Award at the Malaysian International Fashion Awards. Most recently, Looi was nominated for the World Fashion Awards to be held in Paris in 2013, and showcased one of her couture creations as part of World Fashion Exhibition, at various international fashion weeks.
Looi currently oversees 3 brands: Melinda Looi Couture, Melinda Looi ready to wear and casual design brand MELL, in addition to Melinda Looi Bridal and Melinda Looi Islamic Wear, Melinda Looi kids as well as Melinda Looi eyewear and accessories line. Her signature style focuses on broad global reference incorporating intricate details, bright colors, rich mix of prints, fabrics and textures, as well as surprising embellishments using feathers, jewels and other natural materials.
When approached by Materialise, Looi was excited to undertake experimenting with new 3D printing technology after years of working with traditional sewing and materials. Working with a team of engineers from Materialise, Looi visualized the designs based on 3D images, and crafted fabric and paper prototypes for some of the designs to get a better sense of fit and measurement. Nature is a recurring inspiration and theme in Looi’s work, and birds served as the inspiration for the 3D printed pieces.
Each piece is accompanied by a description from the artist, which almost reads as a free verse poem.
Face it (Headgear) – “Challenges are never an issue to her! She will never hide away from obstacles. If we have faith, we can overcome anything! The bird represents Her!“
Her Love and Strength (Necklace) – “Maternal love is one of the best things on earth. Her love and Strength will always be there to protect us. A necklace with a pair of wings sitting on the shoulders signifies the strength of our mothers. The nest and the open wings of the birds over the nest to show her love towards her babies. The stones are representing the love and kindness of a mother – shining brightly in all circumstances!“
Open Wings (Cape) “She is a warrior! Always persevering, never giving up. BUT no matter how tough she is, she is always there to give her love freely. Opening her arms to welcome any difficulties and give all she can to help others. She represents today’s women – tough yet loving, strong yet womanly.“
Let Her Shine (Peacock skirt) – “Always give someone a chance to show what they can do. You might be surprised and dazzled by their inner strength and beauty! This skirt is inspired by the ever inspiring peacock, especially when their tail is opened into a beautiful fan!”
Stand on Me (Wedges)- “You can always count on me when you need help or someone to listen to your troubles. The birds that are tough are always ready to fight a battle for you.”
Here is a video from Materialise showing the creation of the pieces. It is especially interesting to note that while the majority of the pieces were made using SLS, the part of the cape that wraps around the body was created using a mammoth SLA.
It is indeed amazing and inspiring to see how quickly 3D printed fashion is arriving on runways worldwide, and Materialise and Melinda Looi should be commended for making this event happen in Kuala Lumpur. However, the bar for 3D printing fashion is being continuously pushed up by fashion designers world wide – besides the works of Iris van Herpen we now have Natasha Fagg, Francesca Smith and Catherine Wales among others who are striving to define the limits of the technology. In this context, it is impossible not to notice that some of the pieces seem too small (the necklace and the cape), while the skirt has an unnecessary bulky and stiff feel. Of course this might be due to the significant logistical challenges including the remoteness of the engineering team from the designer and the limitations in fitting the models prior to the show, as well as the newness of the technology to a designer who has mainly excelled in traditional crafting techniques. Regardless, upon looking at Looi’s earlier works and the free-verse descriptions accompanying each item, one wonders if the completed 3D printed pieces lived up to the designer’s grand vision.
In the interviews following the show, Melinda Looi stated that she will most definitely will be working with 3D printing again. With Materialise’ new branch in the region, and Looi’s increased experience in this arena, I’m certain that the next 3D printed show in Asia will surpass all expectations.
For additional photos of the 3D printed pieces, click over to i.materialise flickr