Having wound down her ready-to-wear line a few seasons ago to focus on “new couture” and accessories, conquering the frontiers of sartorial expression without sliding into sci-fi costume territory has been a delicate balancing act for Iris van Herpen.
This season, presenting a serene, more wearable collection, she pulled it off.
Despite the labor-intensive nature of the clothes — albeit often involving machines, with the opening Foliage dress requiring 260 hours of 3-D printing and endless other high-tech processes — there was an immateriality to the collection.
The designer stuck to classic couture shapes of the grand and billowing or mini and intricate variety. But the structures looked ultra fragile, with van Herpen focusing on silk-tulle bases covered in geometric formations of laser-cut fabrics, as well as her signature exoskeleton structures.
She used as her starting point the aerial photography of Thierry Bornier and Andy Yeung, among others, along with the organic floating paper sculptures of Dutch artist Peter Gentenaar, with a selection of them suspended from the ceiling of the show venue, the Mineralogy and Geology Gallery in Paris.
The final dress — a springy affair in a whirl of wire-boned velvet, silk organza and mylar — resembled a living version of one of his works. It delivered the theatrics that one has come to expect from an Iris van Herpen show, but like much of the other otherworldly creations felt a little lacking in soul.
Instead, the most relatable looks were a series of long voluminous iridescent gowns that ballooned at the hem, built from perforated nude leather tops interwoven with a liquid fabric bonded to mylar. They were both technically complex and eye-catching.