Iris Van Herpen turns fashion into fine art
There is a certain moment in fashion when it passes – albeit for a few minutes – into art, which was the territory the audience entered at the Iris Van Herpen show on Monday in Paris.
Haute couture is meant to be the laboratory of fashion, and this was as experimental as you can imagine. One arrived in near total darkness into the lower depths of the Cirque d’Hiver. When the lights came up slowly for the show they revealed five large water tanks inside which were not fish tanks but live musicians. Danish group Between Music, who managed to sing and play drums and cymbals using mini microphones under the water.
The collection was entitled Aeriform, since much of it was made of feathery light metal, laser cut into lace patterns and molded by hand into geodesic shapes. One particular dress was made of “invisible” tulle dress made in collaboration with Philip Beesley, the Canadian architect known for his immersive installations. Another “biomimetic” gown in silver lace was hand stitched to create undulating waves as the model walked. A further came in laser cut steel, formed into a spider web of metal.
“It’s about airborne materiality and lightness,” said this gentle Dutch designer, who will celebrate her 10th anniversary with a sizzling late night party, where the DJ was Icelandic legend Björk.
Their hair finished with scores of tresses, the models looked like they had emerged from some distant ocean. Very likely, little of this collection will be made into actual clothes for paying customers. But Van Herpen’s influence will be felt everywhere – in her romantic technological vision, and in the collections she prepares for Swarovski. Above all, by determination to break new frontiers in fashion, both in materials and setting, Van Herpen has become one of the leaders of Paris couture, and its ability – every so often – to turn fashion into fine art.
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