Having a great collection of clothes for a couple seasons down the line doesn’t really cut it anymore at New York Fashion Week. There needs to be an added level of creativity, an awe-inspiring moment that someone can look back at and say “I was there.” One of those moments for NYFW Spring/Summer 2016 is certainly going to be Tommy Hilfiger’s pier carnival runway show and the other is going to be Chromat’s life and technology affirming HYPERWAVE show featuring live voguing by Mela Murder and 3-D resin printing of her fluid poses.
On Friday night at Milk studios, in an open space that almost felt like an minimalist gym, Becca McCharen-Tran presented her brand-new collection championing strong female athletes and artists through her models, which included transgender model Carmen Carrera, plus-size model Iskra Lawrence and other body image activists.
Check out photos from Chromat’s inspiring show below and underneath that, read about how McCharen-Tran’s 3-D printing dream became a NYFW reality.
Innovation has always been at the center of Becca McCharen-Tran’s designs for Chromat. Since 2010, her collections have been equally inspired by the curves of a woman as the rigid structural lines of architecture, and her acute attention to detail has kept Chromat’s dominant in the athletic and swimwear world.
If for some reason, you’re questioning Chromat’s supremacy just take a gander at their Rolodex, which is chock-full of uber-A-list celebrities like Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, Madonna and FKA twigs. Still not impressed for some god-knows-why reason? Just know that Queen Bey is such a massive fan of Chromat that she commissioned McCharen-Tran to create custom pieces for the Mrs. Carter World Tour and her literally Super Bowl-stopping halftime performance in 2013. “She’s a true Chromat babe,” says the 31-year-old designer. “[Beyonce’s] powerful, strong and not afraid to stand out and speak her mind which is what we’re always inspired by.”
For her latest line, SS17 HYPERWAVE, McCharen-Tran dug deep and found muses in athletes instead of pop stars. “Spring is always more about water and swim based collection and so for this collection we were looking more at female athletes in water sports and athletes that perform superhuman feats in sports like surfing and flyboarding and all these aquatic-based sports.”
But as we’ve seen before, a strong aesthetic and a drool-worthy collection is not enough for McCharen-Tran. She continues to look to the horizon for not what comes next in fashion, but what will come next in the fashion industry as a whole—and to McCharen-Tran, that means 3-D printing.
Here, the Chromat mastermind pulls back the curtain on how she’s changing the game, yet again, with her Spring/Summer 17 collection.
“We’re collaborating with a dancer/choreographer named Mela Murder—a well-known voguer in New York—and she’s going to be vogue-interpreting the collection into a series of movements that we will be creating files and 3-D printed models of. The collection is going to be interpreted into movement by Mela in six different poses, like freeze-framed moments of the choreography. Each movement will have [Mela wearing] a different garment [from HYPERWAVE] and then those body scans will be 3-D printed by Formlabs printers… This is always my favorite part of the job—being able to collaborate with really creative and talented people in all different fields. So working with dancers, working with Bodylabs for the scans and CGI/multimedia artists Pussykrew for the digital world for the motion capture scans, all to make something that’s bigger than ourselves.”
“Formlab’s 3-D printers are amazing, really beautiful and super high tech. The 3-D print starts just as liquid resin and the printer uses laser to bond the molecules of the resin to bond to the desired design. So the model emerges from these molecule bondings—the process is called Stereolithography (SLA).
We love using new technology in really interesting ways to sort of interpret, in an artistic way, the inspiration of [each] collection. It’s also fitting and poignant [for this collection] because the Formlabs 3-D printer uses a different type of printing software. It’s still additive manufacturing, but it’s not layer-by-layer printing like a MakerBot—this is like emerging from liquid, which is really cool because it relates to our Spring/Summer 17 collection because spring is always more about water to us.”
THE FUTURE OF BUSINESS
“We’re also doing a pop-up shop [during NYFW] called FYI MADE. It will be a three-day art gallery and shop around the corner from our runway show and, in that space, you’ll be able to get up close with the 3-D prints… [Beyond Fashion Week, online shopping is] a huge factor for us—we have people buying Chromat all over the world from places where we have no stores. I’m so glad that the internet has opened up this [industry]. You can be exposed to Chromat anywhere—a small town or a big city. The internet has made fashion a democracy and you can access any type of fashion anywhere you are. Also, I know I’ve said it before but, bodyscanning is so important to the process—I see it as the future of online shopping. People will be able to virtually try on clothes before purchasing!”
THE IMPACT OF NEW YORK FASHION WEEK
“Every runway show is a celebration. It’s a celebration of all the women that make up our Chromat world, it’s a celebration of the new collection and it’s a big unveiling of what we’ve been working on for the last six months… It’s crazy!
For me, personally, it’s super emotional because leading up to the show we pour everything we have into building these close and conceptualizing and what we put on the runway is our blood, sweat and tears. So, after we release the collection its super emotional because every time that you have a show you’re opening up your whole world to the general audience to look at and critique and comment on [your work]. It’s very scary and also it’s a huge and exciting release for us. It’s fun to get feedback and to finally show everyone what we’ve been working on privately for the last six months.”
FYI MADE will be open from Monday September 14 to Wednesday September 14. The shop is located at 449 W. 14th Street and will be open from noon to 8 p.m. all three days.