Hair salon; fashion show; luncheon: That gentile rhythm of the couture ladies of yore has yielded to the breakneck pace of ready-to-wear, complete with stampeding photo bloggers, show-crashers and overlapping parties.
So thank you, Iris van Herpen, for a moment of calm, sublime beauty and futuristic fashion wizardry. On Monday, the Dutch designer stood her models on concrete plinths as Japanese musician Kazuya Nagaya brushed his golden Zen bowls, producing pings and drones that reverberated through the L’Oratoire du Louvre, an 18th-century Protestant church.
Sound waves were the springboard for the collection, specifically cymatics, the science of visualizing sound waves into geometric patterns. Yet one needn’t understand acoustic dynamics to appreciate Van Herpen’s representation: frothy and ethereal dresses in the palest colors, the simplest a long sheath resembling morning dew on wet skin.
Van Herpen explained that the latter was achieved by embedding tens of thousands of Swarovski in liquid silicone. She did the same with hand-blown glass bubbles, producing a trembling, shimmering, extraterrestrial tutu.
Hers is a world of laser cutting, 3-D printing and fibers five times thinner than human hair. Gosh knows how she calculated the visual effect of striped organza for halter dresses, densely pleated and then arranged in rows and swirls so as to impart the impression of sound waves. They were stunning.
Van Herpen explained that to appreciate the meditative effects of Nagaya’s music, one should home in on the sounds as they unfurl and then disappear into sweet nothingness. For all their complexity, van Herpen’s best dresses produced the same magic.