Royal Ascot hat made by 3D printing

Cutting-edge technology and avant-garde fashion design have been brought together by top milliner, Gabriela Ligenza, in order to create a stunning ladies’ hat on a 3D printer for this week’s Royal Ascot.

The spectacular creation, commissioned by Great British Racing, uses the precision of a robot to translate Gabriela’s millinery skills into a fully-finished model in just a matter of hours.

The Royal Ascot headpiece pushes the boundaries of fashion design by incorporating a poem rather than reflecting the traditional staples of the hat-maker, straw, ribbon and feathers. The poem, which was specially written for the Royal Meeting, encapsulates the uniqueness of this world-famous horse racing festival and was penned by racing poet Henry Birtles.

3D printing technology, also known as ‘additive manufacturing’, is best known in automotive, aerospace, biotech and architectural applications but fashion designers such as Gabriela are starting to explore how the science can be harnessed for customised clothing.

The 3D printing process simply refers to successive layers of material being laid down under computer control on special printing machines. First, the designer’s ideas need to be turned into computer-generated three-dimensional models. This information is translated into wafer-thin cross-sections which the computer communicates to a robotic printing arm on an additive manufacturing machine. The printing arm applies a fine layer of nylon powder, based on the computer programme that builds layer-by-layer over a matter of hours until the object is fully formed.

The process is already being used in the making of items such as prosthetics, rocket engine parts and even bespoke weapons, but it is only now being recognised as an art form for the fashion industry.


Gabriela’s training as an architect and interior designer, before turning her hand to millinery, gave her the confidence to work with leading experts at Lille University of Sciences and Technology and specialist 3D modellers in her quest to create headwear that would have been impossible to make by traditional methods. She is now able to name fashion houses Galliano, Bottega Venenta, Ferragamo, Prada and Stella McCartney among her clients.


Ligenza said of the project: “Artisan and bespoke textiles have always been at the heart of what I do but working with such a cutting edge technique as 3D printing has allowed me to create what before was impossible within millinery. Having the chance to bring together the age old classical pairing of millinery and racing and this new technology and approach to design for Ascot perhaps the world’s most famous race meeting, has been an exciting creative journey”


Royal Ascot is live on Channel 4 from 17 – 21 June and features seven races from the QIPCO British Champions Series. Visit www.britishchampionsseries.com.


Press Release

About Author

Founder of Eclectic Enchantments blog, Erika has also been a beauty writer, fashion writer and Beauty & Accessories Editor for a large online magazine before starting Erisea. Erika lives with her dog, Hendrix and beautiful baby girl. She suffers with Fibromyalgia and CFS, among other illnesses which leaves her housebound much of the time. Her passion is writing.


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