Iris Van Herpen’s haute couture collection floats between earth and sky
today Jan 22, 2019
Last year, Dutch designer Iris Van Herpen offered a bird’s eye view of the earth in her haute couture collection. This year, she changed her vantage point, turning her gaze skywards instead. She developed her new theme drawing inspiration from the heavens, weaving feathery clouds and nocturnal colours into a Spring/Summer 2019 collection at once intense and delicate, showcased on Monday at the Fine Arts Museum in Paris.
Van Herpen, a devotee of 3D printing and innovative materials, concocted her new wardrobe starting from 17th century celestial cartography, rich in mythological and astrological symbolism.
The clothes are built from laser-cut, multi-layered silk in tone-on-tone hues, featuring undulating outlines. The silk layers overlap each other like contour lines on maps, the fabrics shaped by the models’ figures creating sculpture-in-motion dresses.
“We looked at the evolution of the human body, its conceptualisation over the ages and the hybridisation of the female figure in mythology,” said Van Herpen, who wanted to “explore identity in its deepest sense, and the way in which it can become immaterial and mutual in the contemporary fusion of our digital forms.”
Van Herpen’s millefeuille, petal-like dresses in bright reds veering into orange, or in flesh and dark mauve hues, bloom explosively around the models’ bodies, or envelop them in the feathers of mythical birds. Using the same relief-like construction technique, other dresses, this time in white silk with outlines seemingly drawn in ink, look like stylised clouds from which a pair of dark eyes gazes out surreptitiously.
Others still are inspired by colourful, watery cloud designs created by artist Kim Keever. The designs are printed on sheer, impalpable organza layers, overlaid in nebulous multidimensional shapes, whose unfinished outlines blur the body beneath, creating long vaporous dresses in all the colours of the sky.
Elsewhere, Van Herpen skilfully uses pleats to spread the wings of her poetic butterfly and bird dresses in midnight blue, or in the hues of the sky at dawn.
The show’s enchanting finale triggered rapturous applause as laser-lighting effects plunged the room into a digital dreamland made of floating clouds, while the models, lit from below, flitted like glittering fireflies.
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