The Hollywood production Black Panther received an Oscar nomination in the category Best Film and seven other categories. Including Best Costume Design. The costume of the leading actress Queen Ramona was made with a 3D printer. It was designed by Julia Körner, an Austrian living in the USA.
Julia Körner works interdisciplinary in the fields of architecture, product and fashion design and has distinctive expertise in digital manufacturing methods and 3D printing. She has already worked for renowned fashion houses such as Chanel and Iris van Herpen. In 2016, Körner was contacted by Ruth Carter, who had noticed her at the Haute Couture Shows in Paris. Carter was responsible at the Marvel Studios for the costume design of Black Panther.
Körner was to design costumes for a film. The order ran under the code name Motherland. The title was not mentioned. Körner only realized its dimension when she saw the costume on the screen and the sales figures became known. Körner in an exclusive interview:
What was the client’s expectation – why did she want a 3D print design?
Körner: “With this costume, she wanted to embody the Afro-Futurism of film – and create a symbiosis between African aesthetics and state-of-the-art technology. It was about the design of two crowns and a shoulder cape. In 3D technology, she saw the possibility of creating complex structures that could not be created with manual methods”.
You worked on the costumes for four months. What was the technical challenge?
“One of the challenges was to establish a working process previously unknown in the film industry; to bring together traditional and innovative manufacturing processes. All my designs are created with special programs on the computer. I model on a virtual body whose mass I determine in advance. Once my designs are printed, it is difficult to make adjustments or changes. That makes the work complicated.”
The costume was printed in Europe – at Materialise, a printing company in Belgium. What influenced this choice?
“I’ve been working with Materialise for over ten years. We have already realized several 3D printing projects that have won awards. The company is very reliable, works with industry specialists and offers exceptional service.”
The 3D printing was based on powder and laser, which melts the powder into shape layer by layer. What are the criteria for material and technology?
“For fashion projects, I work with the Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) technique, which prints with PA12. A material made of polyamide, which allows flexibility, strength and detail accuracy.”
Do you think that Black Panther has sparked interest in 3D printing costumes in the film industry?
“Not only do I think that, I know it. In March, costumes of mine will already be shown on the cinema screen. I am sure that there will be a lot more to come. Because with this technology it is possible to create innovative and detailed costumes.”
Why are architects constructing 3D fashion design?
“3D printing is mainly used in architecture and not in fashion. You need knowledge about digital manufacturing processes and three-dimensional computer design. This is not taught in fashion education. I learned from Ross Lovegrove how 3D printing is used in product manufacturing. Since then, I have been fascinated by the realization of digital designs in 1:1 scale.
Fashion is the smallest scale of architecture – the space that directly surrounds our body, the smallest form of a second skin. On this scale, 3D printing can be used one-to-one as a product and work with complex structures.”
They work with special computer programs with which they model a virtual body and write codes. Which software do you use?
“I model in 3D in various architectural programs and also use visual programming software.”
The Oscar ceremony will take place on 24 February 2019.
About Julia Grains
The interdisciplinary designer was born in Salzburg and studied architecture at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and Emergent Technologies and Design at the Architectural Association in London. Since 2012 she has been teaching at the Architecture Institute of the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA). In 2015 she founded her own fashion label specialised in 3D printing JK Design.
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