Telford firm decks out Met Gala’s ice queen Nina Dobrev

It was a night when the world’s celebrities dressed in their weirdest and most wonderful outfits.

And one fashion designer’s work at the Met Gala in New York demonstrated not only their own imagination – but also the capabilities of a Telford manufacturer.

With the cameras capturing the likes of Lady Gaga, Harry Styles and Kim Kardashian in all manner of camp and colourful costumes, actress Nina Dobrev turned up in a dress which was 3D-printed by Telford-based Protolabs.

The outfit, made by designer Zac Posen who has dressed the likes of Uma Thurman, Michelle Obama and Rihanna in years gone by, was inspired by the idea of freezing natural objects in motion.

Zac Posen's bustier

And with an extraordinary standard of costume on show at the annual charity fundraiser, it had to look the part.

The three-way collaboration involved manufacturing experts at the company’s UK factory on the Halesfield Industrial Estate, others at the company’s German facility and engineers from another company, GE Additive.

“The Met Gala is special for designers because it’s the biggest fashion event in the world,” said Zac. “This year it is particularly special because we’re working with GE Additive and Protolabs to 3D print ideas that are unachievable using fabric.

“For me, science, engineering and art all work together. That’s why standing at the forefront of 3D printing is so important.”


Speaking at the glamorous event in New York, The Vampire Diaries actress Dobrev said: “Over 60 or so hours it took to print the mould and then the dress itself is separate – it took about six to eight weeks from the original fitting until now.

“And it takes a team of six people to put it on. We’ve had a lot of fittings.”

Dobrev was not alone in wearing Protolabs’ work, with its factories around the world getting involved in Posen’s project.

The range also included a rose gown worn by English model Jourdan Dunn, an embroidery gown worn by actress Deepika Padukone, a palm shoulder accessory worn by Batman and Dawson’s Creek actress Katie Holmes, and a head piece worn by actress Julia Garner.

Each of the stars visited his offices in Manhatten to be kitted out before travelling to the gala on a specially-chartered coach which allowed them to stand, rather than ruin their outfits.

Daniel Cohn, general manager of Protolabs, added: “In a fashion project like this, 3D printing gives designers almost complete creative freedom.

“Designers are no longer limited by traditional manufacturing processes, where a project would be curtailed by questions like ‘can a part be cut to this shape’ or ‘can it suspend itself under its own weight’.

“What we have here is a very pure design process, from concept to physical part.

“With 3D printing you can really increase the complexity of parts whilst also reducing weight.”

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