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Iris Van Herpen's Fourth Dimension Femininity

The designer's creations belong in museum shows and conceptual photo shoots​,​ but one could imagine today's liquid plissé kaftans making a serious red-carpet splash.
By
  • Dan Thawley

PARIS, France —  Iris Van Herpen occupies a rather nebulous space between fashion and the noble disciplines of science, architecture and technology — a fact that enables multiple readings of her sculptural designs. In the context of today's fast-changing haute couture landscape, she is still singular in her pursuit of beauty in strange places.

For her latest experiment​,​ ​Van Herpen ​explored fashion in the 4th dimension by studying slow-motion bird flight in order to devise many of her rippling organza dresses. Inside Le Trianon, fellow Dutch innovators Studio Drift framed her creations with an eerie glass set: bisected tubes that dipped and peaked in a hypnotic display as her excruciatingly complex coats and dresses walked beneath them.

Some possessed a sensual, floating quality and a new grasp on colour​ thanks to shots of sky blue, scarlet and minty green amongst skin-coloured garments. Others experimented with woven tailoring (less successful), occupying a middle ground between her fluid kaftan gowns and the strict, rigid shells she crafts like exoskeletons around the body.

The best of those swept in Rorschach-like wings away from the bust, accenting a new femininity for Van Herpen yet remaining firmly in the realms of wearable art. For the most part, Van Herpen’s creations belong in museum shows and conceptual photo shoots (two things she stages in abundance)​,​ however one could imagine her liquid plissé kaftans making a serious red-carpet splash in Venice this year.

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