Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Fashion Week has a way of making collections seem to blend together — look after look, trend after trend. Sometimes live streaming shows just isn't enough. The meticulous stitching, beading, and draping that goes into some pieces, especially couture, rarely get the attention it deserves. In the midst of fashion month, Chanel gave us the opportunity to slow down and take it all in at its showroom in New York City with a close-up look at the brand's Fall 2015 couture collection.
From afar, the couture looks Karl Lagerfeld sent down the runway in July were pretty similar to some of Chanel's most iconic silhouettes and designs. There's the classic tweed jacket Coco Chanel popularized in the 1920s, the quilted fabric synonymous with the house's 2.55 leather bag, and Lagerfeld's modern take on the little black dress. Unless you were sitting front row or holding a magnifying glass up to detailed photos after the show, you wouldn't be able to tell that some of these familiar designs were actually molded by a 3-D printer.
The 20th century met the 21st with techniques former style.com editor-at-large Tim Blanks said would "blow [Coco] Chanel's mind." About 10 to 12 looks were designed using selective laser sintering — lasers used to melt material one layer at a time to create three dimensional objects. Those tweed jackets? They're actually composed of 3-D printed grids later embroidered by the house's historic couture ateliers, Lesage and Lemarié. On closer inspection, the quilted jackets and matching skirts are molded out of a supple, cage-like material. The layers of strategically stitched sequins underneath the pieces give it an almost two-toned appearance.
Even though this is the first time Lagerfeld has experimented with fashion design and 3-D printing — computers and machines working in tandem alongside human couturiers — this isn't the first time he has tried something new in a fashion landscape that thrives on trends of the past. From the looks of this collection, it probably won't be the last. In an interview with Agence France-Presse, the designer said:
"What keeps couture alive, is to move with the times. If it stays like sleeping beauty in the woods in an ivory tower, you can forget it. The women who buy couture today are not the bourgeoises of the past, they are young, modern women."
Get up close and personal with the technology-driven designs of Chanel's Fall 2015 couture collection in our gallery above.