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By Chere Di Boscio
Looking at the innovative, zero waste fashion work by Catherine Wales, two things come to mind: angels and demons. In fact, it’s impossible not to have such Biblical characters evoked when you see the contrast of the delicate feathers, formed into wings, and the bold, borderline creepy masks, one of which is topped off with golden horns.
Wales clearly has a vivid imagination, and a sharp intelligence. She is a pioneer in the realm of 3D fashion creation, and her Project DNA will be featured in London’s Design Museum as part of a new exhibition titled The Future is Here.
The show focuses on new methods of clothing manufacturing and how they are revolutionising the role of the consumer – themes Catherine knows more about than almost anyone else.
After all, Catherine has been working in the luxury fashion industry for over 15 years, cutting designs for major designers including Jasper Conran, Jean Charles de Castelbajac, Oswald Boateng, Emanuel Ungaro, and most recently, Saint Laurent, where she worked with the brand’s innovative new Creative Director, Hedi Slimane.
“Advances in technology have allowed me to utilise my expertise as a pattern cutter to approach current complications surrounding garment sizing and manufacturing restrictions. 3D technology can sustainably solve sizing issues and cut down on wastage, while better supporting consumer demand,” she says.
Wales is highly focused on making designs that are customised to the wearer’s body and experience.
For example, her Project DNA is created almost entirely with individual and interchangeable ball and socket components that allow each garment to move in a number of directions, depending on what the wearer desires.
She states she has been inspired by identity and the visual structure of human chromosomes, and these themes are reflected literally and figuratively in her work.
Produced using white nylon with a 3D printer, the collection pieces on show will encompass a scaffolded corset and a blossoming feathered shoulder piece, amongst other works. She created her collection by scanning the body of wearer, and then importing the data into 3D modelling software. The computer models were then sent to a SLS 3D printer.The technology, also known as rapid prototyping, works by using software to divide these computer designs into triangular facet, which allows a 3D printer to read the designs and then deposits successive layers of material which can either be in liquid, powder or sheet form.
The layers are jointed together automatically to create the final design, corresponding to the initial computer model, which directly corresponds to the human model’s body.
While not exactly mainstream or wearable on the street as yet, such designs are disrupting how create, wear and conceive fashion. Catherine’s futuristic collection provokes conceptual thinking and urges the development of waste-reducing luxury fashion prototyping; something more designers should be paying attention to, given the perilous condition of our planet.
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All images Copyright Catherine Wales. Photography by Christine Kreiselmaier
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