PARIS, France — Iris Van Herpen is haute couture’s preeminent geek: the one person who has seduced the fashion pack with wearable art and then turned the tables to shock the scientific and technological communities with the beautiful things she creates with their innovative R&D. In the past, this exercise has produced heavy, enormous dresses — fragile things pieced together from tiny custom components in her Amsterdam atelier over hundreds of hours of painstaking work. Today’s show ‘Ludi Naturae’ proved that this techno-craft remains. However, it is injected with a new lightness via a 3D printing update that saw Van Herpen inserting tulle directly into printers at the Delft University of Technology, producing layers less than a millimeter thick.
The result was an exceptional softness and flexibility, welcome qualities that often lacked in her earlier work. Van Herpen‘s uncanny ability to render graphic patterns in the third dimension is what sets these creations apart from her peers, and today those appeared as leafy grids inspired by the contours and movements of planet earth – essentially a macro-scale zooming out from the minutiae of details that have so often inspired her on a microscopic level. As for silhouette, this season certainly purified some of Van Herpen’s ideas of drape, producing billowy iridescent balloon shapes, whilst her more architectural and body-conscious designs were enlivened by the pleasant surprise of jewel tones from pale citrine yellow and deep teal to inky amethyst purple. Peppered through with pleasing asymmetries (a necklace seemed to grow out of one model's neck like gills), this collection was a big step forward, bridging the gap between Iris as a conceptualist and Iris as a creator of desirable garments – for the red carpet, an upcoming ballet, and beyond.