'It’s all about movement and kinetic energy,' says Iris van Herpen in a preview before the show. ’You’ll have to wait and see what happens…’ Knowing that previous presentations have seen underwater musicians, optical light screens and sculptural paper installations, one had high expectations for van Herpen’s latest collection.
Collaborating with artist collective Studio Drift, van Herpen had created a space set in darkness with twenty clear poles hanging above the runway as a bionic artwork. As the models walked, these lit bars began to curve and follow the models’ movements, reacting to their motions. The installation appeared to slowly flow as if waves lapping the shore, but rather than oceanic, this piece mimicked the wings of a bird, that pre-flight warming of muscle before wings soar. It was mesmerising. Reality had surpassed expectation.
The garments too had been inspired by avian activity; one of the dress’ was crafted from a bird’s sound-wave linear patterns; using sound to create fragile yet forceful pieces that even when static appeared to move, breathe or hum. Other fluid lines throughout the collection had been created using chronophotography. Van Herpen takes the layers from this style of image-making to create garments that mimic kinetic motion. Much like a flick book or a zoetrope. Many of these garments, should you remove the model, could appear as though 3D designs, or graphics - there's a trick of the eye as to whether the pieces are 2D, 3D, pulsing or static.
In opposition to all the laser-cut techniques and future technologies, van Herpen had been utilising the more traditional technique of weaving in her designs. Each woven with a parametric file, creating an inviting iridescence and shadow. Invitingly palatable amongst the drama of silhouette. This morphing of gentle shimmer, alongside strong, imposing forms and the heavy-breathing of the installation above, was pure chemistry. This ingenuity came to a pinnacle in the final looks; a winged fantasy dress, which was as if a bird freeze-framed in motion, and a mask-like headpiece that had printed faces in segments - as if the model had been swishing her head from side-to-side. Both extraordinary.
Is there anyone who can merge science and fashion in such a unique manner as Iris? Often 'future fashion' can be perceived as gimmicky or dorky but this feels at the forefront of what fashion will inevitably be. Technology and experimentation pulses through the vein of everything van Herpen does. This collection proves it - van Herpen is the ultimate in fashion innovation.