High fashion or high tech? Or both at the same time? That is the challenge Iris van Herpen gives herself each season. But while the descriptions of her creative process, from 3D hand-casting to injection molding, remain baffling to non-techies, her collections are increasingly comprehensive.
The spring/summer couture was a story of “between the lines” – those lines, straight but with disruptions of geometric intersections, were laid out on the runway while a metallic mash-up of grids formed the backdrop. Yet the clothes themselves were not cages for the body, but rather soft sculptures that followed nature’s female shape.
In performance, the clothes looked so acceptably “normal” that without the cards picturing each dress and explaining the process of its construction, the collection would have passed without any suggestion of how revolutionary Iris is as a designer in comparison to her couture peers.
The key words behind these ethereal dresses seemed to be 3D hand-casting. But added to that process was “hand-painting through injection molding”. The inside of that dress was lined with silk tulle, but from the audience it was impossible to know whether the mix of technology and traditional fabric softened the effect and made it more palatable for the skin.
From a fashion point of view, Iris has developed a silhouette and a personality that is recognizably hers: short cocktail dresses with defined waist and flaring skirt – if that description does not sound too banal. But there were also long, soft dresses, made perhaps from silk tulle, shaped with 3D hand-cast lines. They were also hand-painted, emphasizing an increasing confidence in mixing technology and craft. Those silken materials might be decorated – and shaped – with hand-created patterns that looked like broken glass.
Are these high-tech creations really comfortable and wearable? Watching the body molds of a draped jumpsuit, I itched to give it a reality check. Ditto for a chic dress made from laser-cut leather and hand-pleated organza, sculpted with soft boning.
Iris has come a long way since the models struggled to physically support the tangle of her futuristic ideas. If she continues to meld high tech to the human form, she may become the role model for 21st century couture, and her apparently Mad Max way of development become accepted as fashion’s exciting new norm.