3D printed Black Panther cape and crown win Oscar for Best Costume Design
The 2019 Oscars ceremony took place on 24 February 2019 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles. American costume designer Ruth E. Carter took home the award for best costume design for her work for Black Panther, one of 2018’s highest-grossing films.
In order to bring life inspired by African patterns presented in the initial design sketches, Ruth E. Carter approached Julia Koerner to help 3D print a mantel and crown for the main character Queen Ramonda.
“Based on the initial costume design sketches by Ruth Carter, I developed a series of African-inspired 3D patterns and designed the Zulu Hat and the Shoulder Mantle so that it had corresponding elements in the pattern,” Koerner told 3ders. “It was important that the fashion pieces did not look hand-crafted and incorporated the technological look of something generated parametrically by algorithms by a computer. Therefore, we used visual programming software to develop the geometries for the pieces and experimented with the material intricacy and behavior. Together we developed the most cutting-edge, digitally designed wearables that we could imagine.”
In actually fabricating the costume props, Koerner worked with Belgian company Materialise. “The technology we used was laser sintering, a powder-based 3D printing technology that enables the highest level of freedom of design as no supports are needed,” Koerner explained. “The costume props were made from PA 12, a polyamide material that provided us with a high level of accuracy, flexibility, and strength. The material is also well suited for skin contact, making it ideal for fashion and costume designs.”
Carter also asked Koerner to design a statement piece paying homage to the Black Panther that she could wear to the 21st Costume Designers Guild Awards and the Vanity Fair Oscars Party. The neck accessory was inspired by African designs and patterns, together with gala dresses by Balenciaga from the 1950s and the oeuvre of Malian photographer Seydou Keïta. The design itself was entirely customized for Ruth E. Carter, starting with a 3D scan of her head and shoulders. The design was then 3D printed by Materialise in PA 12 using SLS technology and afterwards Koerner hand-embellished the ornament with Swarovski crystals to make it sparkle in certain orientations.
“The crystals intensify, even more, the detail of the piece. This was also the first time that this process of trickling crystals was performed on a 3D-printed piece: it’s a great combination of digital and traditional craftsmanship,” explained Koerner.
“I am inspired by nature and its patterns and structures. The organic growth and synthetic manufacturing processes have an incredible contrasting engagement which I find enticing. Additive manufacturing is definitely the only technique to output the 3D designs I develop on the computer within their organic form, the intricate patterns and geometries often challenge both the computational capacity of my tools as well the production companies I work with. I always push and see what has not yet been done and I am eager to create something new.”