3D Printing

3D Printed Shoes from Iris van Herpen & Rem D Koolhaas Dazzle & Delight in Paris

Anyone that follows high-end fashion AND follows new developments in 3D printing will likely be familiar with the name Iris van Herpen — the pioneering designer that continues to explore the two disciplines in combination.


At the 2012 Paris fashion show, Iris van Herpen wowed with 3D printed couture dresses. For 2013 the theme lowers the eyes to ground level because this year it is all about the shoes.

Yay! Apologies – it had to be said.

Yesterday, Ms van Herpen, in collaboration with fellow Dutch designer Rem D Koolhaas and 3D printing company Stratasys, unveiled 12 pairs of 3D printed shoes on the famous catwalks of Paris Fashion Week during her couture show, entitled ‘Wilderness Embodied.’ Stratasys 3D printed the shoes, all of which display intricate geometries designed to mimic elements of nature and push the boundaries of fashion design.

“For me, fashion has always been about setting your own boundaries and making a statement,” commented van Herpen. “This time around, Rem and I wanted to create something that echoed the beauty and wilderness of the natural world, so we decided to use the technological capabilities of 3D printing to bring this concept to life through a pair of shoes.”

The collaboration between van Herpen and D Koolhaas brought to life a shoe concept inspired by a tree root that features intricate lattices that wind around the foot and mirrors the natural growth of tree roots. The shoes were 3D printed using Stratasys rigid opaque black and white materials on the PolyJet-based multi-material Objet Connex and Objet Eden 3D printers.

“We knew the capability of the technology in terms of quality, immediacy and creativity from our previous collaboration on the 3D printed dress with Professor Neri Oxman and Stratasys. Yet it still amazes us how 3D printing can produce such beautiful shoes that perform remarkably under the stress of being walked in,” explains van Herpen. “The Stratasys rigid black material was fantastic in giving the shoes a glossy look that would catch the eyes of the audience at the show.”

This is the first time D Koolhaas, Creative Director and Founder of United Nude, an architecture inspired shoe company, has produced and showcased an entire 3D printed shoe on the catwalk. According to Koolhaas, the combination of Van Herpen’s inspirational ideas, Stratasys 3D printing innovation and United Nude’s shoe engineering expertise will hopefully inspire shoe designers of the future to unleash their own creativity and explore new approaches previously unthinkable.

“I’m thrilled with the results, they’re stunning and original. Iris is very dramatic with her concepts and the shapes she wanted were only possible with 3D printing – they are almost like a sculpture on your feet, mimicking nature,” said D Koolhaas. “Working with Stratasys also enabled us to quickly test the shoes during the design process and adjust our concepts for optimal function and form. So it was easy to make changes and get exactly what we wanted. Once we locked down the perfect design, we printed 12 pairs of fashion shoes in less than a week.”

Statrasys also enjoy working with the fashion designers: “We are delighted to again be working with such prominent fashion designers on such a prestigious collection. This is the second time for us at the Paris Fashion Show with Iris van Herpen and each time we are amazed at her ability to re-invent fashion with the help of Stratasys 3D printing,” said Arita Mattsoff, Vice President Marketing for Stratasys. “We believe that 3D printing has become a true creative-enabler for the fashion world.  Designers are no longer limited with conventional manufacturing. They can now produce virtually anything they can imagine. For that reason, we feel that 3D printing will become more and more an integral part of fashion design curriculums.”

If like me, Paris was out of the question this week, get a feel for the glamour in the video below: