Usually when we talk about 3D printed costumes, it’s in reference to cosplay, movies, Halloween, and even the theatre, but not often for beauty pageants, with the exception of Miss South Africa in 2018. But the technology was front and center last week at the 71st Miss Universe pageant in New Orleans, as Miss Singapore Carissa Yap graced the stage wearing a costume that featured stunningly intricate 3D printed orchids.
One of the most watched pageants in the world, with an estimated 500+ million viewers in close to 200 territories, is Miss Universe, a global, inclusive organization that celebrates and empowers women of all backgrounds and cultures. The Miss Universe Organization (MUO), run by women for women, works to provide its female participants the tools with which to affect positive change professionally, philanthropically, and personally, and serve as inspirational leaders. Out of 83 delegates this year, the winner was chosen through a process of in-depth interviews, personal statements, and other categories, including swimwear, evening gown, and the aforementioned national costume.
Yap, a 23-year-old National University of Singapore business student, was crowned Miss Singapore in October and decided to represent her country during the Miss Universe event’s National Costumes segment by paying homage to Singapore’s national flower, the hybrid orchid Papilionanthe Miss Joaquim, formally known as Vanda Miss Joaquim. The costume features over 200 3D printed lattice pieces created with what appears to be a 3D printing pen. Interestingly, the five main pieces, which frame Yap’s upper torso with a high-rising collar and open wings at the back, come together to form the silhouette of her home country; additionally, the main sequined bodysuit is red and white, which are Singapore’s national colors.
The renowned Frederick Lee, an award-winning Singaporean designer of theatrical couture, and Singapore fashion design firm Baëlf Design worked together on the costume for over four months. The beautiful white orchids alone took two months to sculpt by hand with the 3D printing pen, and the lattices, each one representing a different part of the flower from vines to the veins of the leaves, were hand-assembled onto the costume. 3D printing ensured that the orchids were lightweight enough for Yap to easily move in the costume.
“Baëlf Design imagines the islands of Singapore composed of the five-fold petals of an orchid draping the upper torso of Miss Singapore. By using computation to grow organic, vein-like structures, these petals form a high-rising collar as well as gracefully outstretched wings, all sensually enveloping the body in a lightweight, white-coloured 3D printed lattice. Ultimately, the 5 petals unite to compose the unmistakable silhouette of the islands of Singapore,” the firm wrote on its Facebook page.
“Baëlf Design explored different methods of patternmaking in the past few months, on the silhouette of Singapore to achieve a detailed, organic garden city aesthetic.”
While Miss Singapore ultimately did not win the Miss Universe title (congratulations to Miss USA!), I’d say that her eye-catching costume, with its beautiful 3D printed orchids and national symbolism, was a winner in its own right.