INTERVIEW : DITA VON TEESE
International burlesque guru Dita Von Teese debuted a fully articulated 3D-printed gown designed by Michael Schmidt — longtime Ace friend and creator of wardrobes for luminaries like Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Deborah Harry and Madonna — in collaboration with Francis Bitonti and Shapeways at our F/W Fashion Week celebrations in New York City this spring. We caught up with the femme fatale to end all femme fatales to talk body modification, the bionic future and her influencers.
You’ve starred in an episode of CSI and done a turn as a judge RuPaul’s Drag Race, as did Beth Ditto. What does it feel like to come from an ‘underground’ background into the mainstream?
Well, it wasn’t an overnight thing. I have a career that spans twenty years. I spent plenty of time in the underground. I feel glad to have the kind of recognition I have now and to have the opportunity to take what I do to different levels and reach a broader audience, but at the same time retain the integrity of what I first set out to do — which was to become the greatest living striptease artist since Gypsy Rose Lee — and to do it my way and not have to commercialize it or sanitize it or do what other people told me I should do to make it.
You recently did a photo shoot at the United Artists Theater — a place very near and dear to the hearts of the Ace family as we’re inhabiting and rehabbing the theater as part of our new hotel in Downtown LA.
Oh god, I’m so excited. Yeah, I did that shoot with one of my favorite photographers, Ruven Afanador, and when I walked into that room… I’ve performed in a lot of the old theaters in downtown LA and I had never seen that one, it was just magical. I’m so excited about that place being opened up to the public because a lot of the old theaters there are only opened up for special events and you only get to see the lavish decor of these beautiful theaters once in a while for special occasions. The idea that people can drop in to Ace Hotel and see the beauty of that place is really exciting to me.

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It’s exciting for us too, maybe we’ll you see you on stage.
I hope so. I would love to be on that stage. It was my first question — when I heard Ace was going to take it over, I thought, “They better not touch this stage, this stage better remain a stage!” (laughs) So I hope it will.
It’ll be a stage, no doubt about it. Rumor has it you’re a huge fan of Betty Grable. Can you talk some more about your influences from Hollywood’s Golden Era? Is there also a film noir influence on your performance style?
Yes, but Betty Grable was the star of the big Fox Technicolor musicals, and those movies made during WWII to make people forget about their troubles — moments of pure beauty and color and glamour. That’s why I love Betty Grable. I love film noir and black and white films and the emotion that’s conveyed, but I’m probably more influenced by the vivid Technicolor.

You experimented with ‘tightlacing’ earlier in your career. Do you think with technologies like 3D printing the old taboos about body modification are about to be blown away?
Yeah, I think it’s a whole different era… obviously body modification is something that’s interesting to me, I’ve engaged in it in my own way in corsetry and I’ve been following the possibilities of 3D-printed body parts and the like making it possible for us to be bionic. It’s amazing technology and I’m excited that I get to see the beginning of it. Maybe by the time I’m 90 years old I’ll tell my great-grandchildren, (great grandmother voice) “I wore the first 3D-printed dress at the beginning of this sort of thing,” and they’ll probably look at me like I’m crazy, but here we are and history is really being made at Ace Hotel. It’s amazing.
At this point in your career, do you ever get scared with all the lights and eyes on you?
Yes, but one of the things I do is I have a lot of control — especially with my burlesque shows — when I’m up there wearing very little and with a spotlight pointed towards me as I’m nearly nude (laughs), I have a lot of control over the visual and the fantasy that I’m showing to people. So, there’s definitely situations that I feel more vulnerable in. I can be very shy and uncomfortable about different situations but when I’m up there and it’s a fantasy I’ve created I’m not nervous about it all.

Photos by Ruven Afanador at the United Artists Theater in Downtown Los Angeles, home to the new Ace Hotel in LA opening this year.

INTERVIEW : DITA VON TEESE

International burlesque guru Dita Von Teese debuted a fully articulated 3D-printed gown designed by Michael Schmidt — longtime Ace friend and creator of wardrobes for luminaries like Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Deborah Harry and Madonna — in collaboration with Francis Bitonti and Shapeways at our F/W Fashion Week celebrations in New York City this spring. We caught up with the femme fatale to end all femme fatales to talk body modification, the bionic future and her influencers.

You’ve starred in an episode of CSI and done a turn as a judge RuPaul’s Drag Race, as did Beth Ditto. What does it feel like to come from an ‘underground’ background into the mainstream?

Well, it wasn’t an overnight thing. I have a career that spans twenty years. I spent plenty of time in the underground. I feel glad to have the kind of recognition I have now and to have the opportunity to take what I do to different levels and reach a broader audience, but at the same time retain the integrity of what I first set out to do — which was to become the greatest living striptease artist since Gypsy Rose Lee — and to do it my way and not have to commercialize it or sanitize it or do what other people told me I should do to make it.

You recently did a photo shoot at the United Artists Theater — a place very near and dear to the hearts of the Ace family as we’re inhabiting and rehabbing the theater as part of our new hotel in Downtown LA.

Oh god, I’m so excited. Yeah, I did that shoot with one of my favorite photographers, Ruven Afanador, and when I walked into that room… I’ve performed in a lot of the old theaters in downtown LA and I had never seen that one, it was just magical. I’m so excited about that place being opened up to the public because a lot of the old theaters there are only opened up for special events and you only get to see the lavish decor of these beautiful theaters once in a while for special occasions. The idea that people can drop in to Ace Hotel and see the beauty of that place is really exciting to me.

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Michael Schmidt and Francis Bitonti debuted the world’s first fully-articulated 3D-printed gown on the legendary Dita Von Teese at Ace Hotel New York last night with Shapeways, as part of our (Nemo-delayed) NYC Fashion Week celebration of burgeoning intersections between technology and fashion. Lots of friends were in attendance to celebrate this super stunning dress and the super stunning woman who presented it to the world. Debbie Harry and legendary rock photographer Bob Gruen joined model Andrej Pejic, the Chris Habana team and designers Anna Sheffield and Natalia Krasnodebska. We were honored to bear witness to this premiere with some very inspiring people — stay tuned for an interview with Dita forthcoming soon.








Photos by Jeff Meltz, and he does.

Michael Schmidt and Francis Bitonti debuted the world’s first fully-articulated 3D-printed gown on the legendary Dita Von Teese at Ace Hotel New York last night with Shapeways, as part of our (Nemo-delayed) NYC Fashion Week celebration of burgeoning intersections between technology and fashion. Lots of friends were in attendance to celebrate this super stunning dress and the super stunning woman who presented it to the world. Debbie Harry and legendary rock photographer Bob Gruen joined model Andrej Pejic, the Chris Habana team and designers Anna Sheffield and Natalia Krasnodebska. We were honored to bear witness to this premiere with some very inspiring people — stay tuned for an interview with Dita forthcoming soon.

Photos by Jeff Meltz, and he does.


POST-NEMO FASHION WEEK : THEFUTUREFUTURE & 3D DESIGN

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From their Brooklyn workshop, thefuturefuture melds burgeoning technologies with a very DIY-informed aesthetic and sensibility. They’ll be joining us for our Nemo-delayed 3D printing jewelry bazaar at Ace Hotel New York this Saturday — and took a few minutes to talk about their work as they prepare.

How does your architectural background influence the way you relate to the human body in jewelry design?

As architects, we typically develop our ideas in terms of constraints.  Working in NYC forces us to constantly work within the obstructions of the existing built environment, and we approach the human body in the same way. Our architectural pieces are always very site-specific, however designing a line to fit each individual is not necessarily possible. So our approach is to make pieces that are generated by custom algorithms so that each piece is as unique as the person wearing it.

Do you dream in 3D?

Absolutely. Actually, we dream in 4D because there is time involved! We also daydream of dark matter and parallel universes.

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FASHION WEEK : KOSTIKA SPAHO, MARIEKA RATSMA & BIOMIMICRY

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A biomimetic 3D-printed shoe collaboration between Dutch fashion designer Marieka Ratsma and American architect Kostika Spaho, inspired by the skull of a bird, reflects the lightness and highly-differentiated bone structure of the cranium. The structure requires less support material, resulting in increased efficiency, strength and elegance — one of the many alluring aspects of biomimicry that, when combined with emerging technologies such as 3D mapping and printing, fuses an Old World, Da Vinci-esque principle of worshiping and mimicking the natural world to further human evolution, with an otherworldly animal-machine-human future (or present) straight out of Blade Runner. Kostika will be working with designers tomorrow in the lobby at Ace Hotel New York for our Fashion Week 3D printing jewelry design bazaar — unless Mother Nature biomimics us back on our asses. In which case, enjoy the reading material.

Top photo from Robin Charlotte, bottom photo by Thomas Van Schaik.


FASHION WEEK : OPULENCE PROJECT

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op·u·lent adj: 1. characterized by an obvious or lavish display of wealth or affluence    2. in richly abundant supply

The Opulent Project is a Portland-based designer/maker collaborative founded by Meg Drinkwater and Erin Gardner a handful of years ago. Drinkwater and Gardner make “jewelry about jewelry” — and they’re of particular interest to us in this moment not only because their work is stunning, inspiring all sort of covetous, curious thoughts — but also because their 3D Ring has us thinking about the metaphor of 3D printing in the era of DIY, “makers” and the conflation of art and fashion. Culled from Google Image Commons, the ring is a stack of digital images never intended to see the light of day IRL. Having broken this unspoken contract, they’ve made something beautiful, thoughtful and slightly dangerous.

"We like to make objects. We are curious about the relationship our society has to its objects. We ponder infatuations. We are interested the nature of possessions. With that, we become a factory.”

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The term ekphrasis refers to the act of “making art about art” — it comes to mind when you mention making “jewelry about jewelry” in that both practices invoke translation, cynicism, celebration and a sort of intentional nonsense-making, calling into question the social, aesthetic and material scaffolding around “real,” “fake” and “meaningful.” How cerebral do you get in your process — does it touch on these points or is more about play? Or both?

This is a great question and I think it considers our process and approach very well. Our process is absolutely rooted in a cerebral investigation of a subject matter, however the outcome, or the product, is very much about play. We try not to take ourselves too seriously. But the viewer/wearer response can be varied in relation to this question. We recently had a bit of a debate with our gallerist in New Jersey about this exact subject. She was wondering if people were ever insulted by some of our projects. Where I had thought we were blending all of the above: translation, cynicism, celebration and intentional nonsense making, she seemed to think some of our work could be more on the cynical side. She thought some of our projects could be seen as a bit more of a sarcastic representation of jewelry than a celebratory one, as though we were saying, “Oh you want a fancy ring; I’ll give you a fancy ring.” We can be pretty cynical and we are of course critical of the established system of value related to commercial jewelry and luxury objects, but we regard this culture with fascination, not necessarily disgust. Our work is not angry, but curious… We are asking questions, not making statements.

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FASHION WEEK : CHRIS HABANA

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We kick off our Fall Fashion Week interviews with designer and sorcerer Chris Habana. Raised in the Philippines and the US on a steady diet of sci-fi, fantasy role play, Dungeons and Dragons and 90s gay counter-culture, Chris’ work blends gothic iconography with a playful and aggressive take on a pop lens. Amidst sketching up his collaboration with thefuturefuture on a series of pieces for our in-house 3D-printed jewelry bazaar at Ace Hotel New York this weekend, Chris talked to us briefly about Catholic School, his queer icons and being an early adopter of 3D mapping in the fashion world.

Talk about how your binational, big gay life has fused with sci-fi to create your strong visual statements about religion, salvation and human agency.

My design process is very organic. My day to day life experiences, my lovers, my encounters — all influence the work. With regards to religion, sex, gay counter-culture, and sci-fi — well, how many times have you heard that story of the young geeky Dungeons and Dragons-playing Filipino immigrant who went to Catholic School and came to the States to realize his goth/angst homosexual dreams in the club and fashion world?

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During Fall Fashion Week in New York on Saturday, February 9, we’re partnering with Shapeways on an interactive encounter of technology and design that explores how digital technology can revolutionize the future of fashion — with Michael Schmidt, Dita Von TeeseMaterial ConneXion and some of today’s most forward-thinking CAD artists and analog jewelry designers.  

An interactive bespoke jewelry bazaar pairs jewelry designers including Ten Thousand Things, Verameat, Ursa Major, In God We Trust, Lindsey Adelman, Anna Sheffield and Chris Habana with CAD modelers Kostika Spaho, thefuturefuture and Duann Scott to offer participants the chance to realize their own custom-made pieces, made before their eyes with MakerBot 3D printers. 

At 2pm in the lobby, we host a group discussion for students about 3D printing and fashion’s future with designer Michael Schmidt —creator of wardrobes for luminaries like Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Deborah Harry and Madonna, and of the rope installation in the lobby of Ace Hotel & Swim Club — and 3D design evangelists Michael Curry and Duann Scott from MakerBot and Shapeways, respectively, and Brooks Hagan, textile artist and Acting Head of the Textile Department at RISD. All students are welcome to attend.

Material ConneXion presents a gallery show focused on the materiality of fashion to come, and Michael Schmidt — creator of wardrobes for luminaries like Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Deborah Harry and Madonna, and of the rope installation in the lobby of Ace Hotel & Swim Club — with Computational Designer Francis Bitonti unveils a fully articulated 3D-printed gown to be debuted by Dita Von Teese as muse and model at a party to herald fashion’s forthcoming digital future.

We’ll be posting interviews, inspiration boards, studio visits and more here in the days leading up to the big shebang.


Tavi Gevinson and Anaheed Alani found a quiet spot in Room 1015 before our Rookie Magazine First Anniversary Party during Fashion Week at Ace New York to talk sophomore year goals, grown men, Taylor Swift and the gift and curse of contending with high expectations. 

Thanks to all who shared snapshots of your unforgettable #bitchface with us for our Rookie Yearbook One contest. Y’all are fierce like Sasha. We’ll be in touch with our winners shortly for their Tavi-signed copies. 















Rookie's first birthday party hosted by Tavi Gevinson and friends in Liberty Hall at Ace Hotel New York during Fashion Week.

Photos by Alyssa Laurel Ringler. Props by Confetti System.

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Rookie's first birthday party hosted by Tavi Gevinson and friends in Liberty Hall at Ace Hotel New York during Fashion Week.

Photos by Alyssa Laurel Ringler. Props by Confetti System.


Sir New York show at the Out Hotel — batter up.

Sir New York show at the Out Hotel — batter up.


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