Iris van Herpen is sui generis. Ten years after she began presenting her avant-garde fashion in Amsterdam—she moved her show to Paris at the invitation of the Fédération Française de la Couture in the Spring 2011 season—her technologically informed work remains so far ahead of what her designer peers are doing that she exists in a class all her own. Which other couturier is shearing metal into filament-thin geodesic rosettes and molding them together into futuristic frocks? As those two closing pieces in that filament-thin wire glided by on 3-D–printed heels, a thought passed: Hollywood should appeal to Van Herpen to costume movies. In the wake of Wonder Woman’s success, we’re going to be seeing a lot more superheroines—it’s about time—and wouldn’t they look divine in the designer’s cutting-edge creations? (Wonder Woman’s backward-looking outfits were one of its few flaws.)
Her Hollywood potential aside, the other 16 looks in this 10th anniversary collection shrunk the gap between science project and spectacular evening number, even when they required complicated laser cutting and heat bonding. Van Herpen’s preoccupations this season were water and air, and the fluidity of both. So organza was printed with straight lines, then pleated to create wave patterns on robe-like gowns almost magisterial in the affect, while narrow columns of silver stretch fabric were laser-cut in moiré patterns to achieve a similar undulating look. And, yes, a bold starlet should by all means take one of these dresses for a spin on the red carpet.
A year ago, Van Herpen used a Zen sound bowl performance to conjure a mood. This time around, the show’s accompaniment was eerier. She recruited Between Music, a five-piece group from Denmark that plays instruments and sings submerged in water tanks. “They represent a beautiful darkness for me,” she said of the players. “This has been a very emotional journey, and I hope it was for the audience.” A fellow journalist compared the performance to the sounds of the womb. Who else at couture week could produce a sensation like that?
The runway review first appears on VOGUE RUNWAY.
Watch a video of Aeriform behind the scenes story. Video by STYLIANOS PANGALOS.