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Soon You'll Be Able To Print Out Your Clothes

Welcome to the FUTURE.

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Designer Iris Van Herpen sent two 3D-printed dresses down the runway this Paris Fashion Week.

Patrick Kovarik / Getty Images

Van Herpen worked with architect and MIT Media Lab professor Neri Oxman to design and print this skirt and cape outfit. According to Mashable, what makes this process especially distinctive is that "3D-printed objects are made from the ground up, layer by layer, as opposed to traditional fashion being cut from a larger piece of cloth, or a sculpture being created by chipping away pieces of marble or metal."

The second outfit, created in partnership with architect Julia Koerner, was printed to feel like a "second skin."

Van Herpen and her team worked with a 3D printing company called Stratasys to create the first look, and one called Materialise to make the second. Basically, these printers allow a variety of multi-textured materials to be used in a single design, creating a new sense of movement. “The incredible possibilities afforded by these new technologies," Oxman explained in a statement, "allowed us to reinterpret the tradition of couture as 'tech-couture' where delicate hand-made embroidery and needlework is replaced by code.”

This isn't entirely new territory for Van Herpen; she debuted 3D printing elements at Amsterdam Fashion Week in 2010 and her design for a 3D dress was named one of the 50 best inventions of 2011 by TIME. Her pieces represent a huge surge in what's possible, and even preferable, to create with this new technology. Which begs the question: what's going to happen to all that delicate hand-made needlework?