For her fall couture collection, Iris van Herpen said she was interested not only in the patterns on outfits but also the gaps in between them. The designer approached the outfits like kinetic art, adding to their visual impact by showing them against a backdrop designed by Italian artist Esther Stocker.
It was a collaboration seemingly made in Instagram heaven, but the poor lighting at the venue meant that only the runway photographers were able to capture the intended effect. For the rest of the audience, even seeing the clothes proved a challenge.
That felt like a wasted opportunity, considering the amount of work that went into each of the 16 looks. In a preview, van Herpen said the curved lines that formed hypnotic repetitive patterns on the clothing were computer-designed but molded and painted by hand with a blend of polyurethane and pigment.
“The shapes are constructed, but it’s the body that changes the shapes and warps the angles when you walk in it,” she explained.
Working in black and white, the designer applied the designs on transparent rubber to create short dresses that quivered like jellyfish. The formations glistened on the surface of a long-sleeve black silk dress and appeared suspended in space on a long gown made from nude silk tulle.
The technique was used to accentuate the exaggerated volumes of a cropped black wool coat and high-waist skirt, whose sculpted volumes recalled the creations of Alexander McQueen, in whose studio van Herpen once interned. Fragments resembling broken glass glistened off a stiff cape dress that seemed destined to live in a museum — or on Lady Gaga, who is a fan.
More wearable options included what she called a “digital glitch” dress made from black silk overlaid with an undulating white laser-cut Mylar fabric that seemed to morph with every step. It deserved closer inspection.