Fold the Interfashionality: 3D-printed Costumes for Beijing Opera

28th November-3rd December 2017

Hockney Gallery, Stevens Building, Royal College of Art, South Kensington, London. SW7 2EU 

Mixing new technology with traditional craft, PhD researchers from the RCA, Mingjing Lin and Tsai-Chun Huang, utilise the newest developments in 3D printing and traditional Eastern pleating to create a never-before-seen costumes for an exclusive performance of ‘Farewell My Concubine’ by Beijing Opera singers at the RCA on 1 December 2017. This performance will inform wider research into the relationship between movement, the body and fashion.


This research project examines the future of bringing together 3D printing with pleating and the performance of traditional Beijing opera (or Peking Opera) by creating new pioneering costume. These keep the same shape and form of traditional costumes, but offer  more subtlety by using monochrome colours and less embellishment, in keeping with contemporary aesthetics. The 3D-printed parts have been printed using a ground-breaking SLS (selective laser sintering) technique from 3D printers Sinterit creating pleated and woven garments that are as soft and pliable as textiles.


The intention of introducing these digitally printed garments is to see how they inform the performance. The garments are designed using a parametric algorithm to translate a traditional pleating structure which can be applied to print the clothing. In contrast to popular 3D printed fashion that is often rigid and acts like body architecture, the costumes created using this new system are soft and moveable. Thus, softness and fluidity offer a new dialogue between garments and movement.


In ‘Farewell My Concubine’, 3D printing, pleated textiles and performance challenge the existing materiality and aesthetics in digital culture. The texture of the 3D printed textiles move away from heavily embroidered traditional costumes. This creates a new aesthetic and ease of movement which will change the classic opera and offers inspirations to the performance, appealing to broader audiences.


Finally, we are ambitious that this project will evoke new thinking. Cultural exchange is atl the core of this research. Following Inter-fashionality 2016, we are focused upon conversations between the East and the West, modern and tradition, technology and handicraft. We aim to radically challenge cultural thinking about fashion, textiles and its performance.

Booking and further details via: https://www.rca.ac.uk/news-and-events/events/first-3d-printed-pleated-beijing-opera-costume/





3D Printing Sponsor/Sinterit  http://sinterit.com/

Consultant/ Filippo Nassetti, Paul Rider, Dr. Yingjun Li

Technical Consultant/ Peng Xie Beijing
Opera/ Zenghui Qiu, Tian Xia, Yongning Zhang

Set Design/ Yu-Ray Pei

Composer/ Chen-Yang Xu

Lighting Design/ DaDiow Lin
Special Thanks/ Camille Jetzer, Mick Lin, Marion Lean



Event – Fold the Interfashionality: 3D-printed Costumes for Beijing Opera, 28th November-3rd December 2017, Hockney Gallery, Royal College of Art, London

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