A central theme in Iris van Herpen’s body of work is movement and how it is expressed at the infinitely small and large ends of the scale. This season, inspired by the wind-powered kinetic outdoor work of American artist Anthony Howe, who created the “Omniverse” installation that hung above the runway, the Dutch designer explored the “manifolds within our ecologies” — a representation of life cycles, for those not into theoretical mathematics.
“I really wanted to express the feeling I got from his work into the collection,” she said after the show. “I looked at the patterns and how they are being created but also dissolved. The glitches are very much symbolizations of how we as people are a threat, but I wanted to also express the beauty at the same time.”
Visual disruption was expressed as prints that were then laser-cut, causing every movement of the wearer to dissolve the pattern. One dress looked like a stream of ink in water cascading down the body — evoking the Japanese art of suminagashi via a complex assembly of shimmering fabric, Mylar and transparent tulle. Another was a changeant version of a Rorschach test, blurring pattern and body.
Van Herpen’s creations simply beg to be experienced in motion on a body. While arresting in an image or on a mannequin, some of their ethereal power evaporates when still. To wit, her final “Infinity” dress featured a feathered aluminum and stainless steel frame that delicately flew in circles around the model.
Céline Dion, who had attended the show in a red, white and black dress that looked like a hazy column of fire, seemed mesmerized by dresses that seemed to vibrate with every step and breathe. “It was magical…magical. [You’ve] created something that’s alive,” she enthused.