Iris Van Herpen Couture Spring Summer 2013 Paris

It starts with a crackle and a purple whip of an electric arc in the darkness of the Intercontinental Hotel’s grand ballroom. As a dancer contorts atop a specially built Tesla coil of a pedestal, Iris van Herpen grabs the audience by the hand to partake in a dream-walk through one of Nicola Tesla’s energy theory.

Having secured her position as one of couture’s most daring experimentalist, Iris van Herpen has been skating along the still beautifully bleeding edge of design, with her use of 3D printing techniques and novel materials, some so raw and so advanced they don’t yet have names. But this time, she seems to have dialed down her use of volumes, thanks to the world-exclusive use of flexible 3D printed “fabrics”.

Yes, her trademark tendrils shimmering audibly still adorn dresses, but there is a new softness in the cream dress with matching bolero, laser cut to feature energy maps, as in the eye-catching overcoat whose pattern closely resembled the now-ubiquitous WiFi symbol. Further on, a translucent black dress skimed the curves without imposing on them. Out of the 11 designs presented yesterday, almost half could be imagined worn.
Although the young Dutch designer has famously been designing shoes in collaboration with United Nude since the beginning, she had yet to branch out into garments that could come off their displays.

Her final exit, all metal “crystals” and sharp angles, reminds that she still has a firm grasp on her vision of a new path for garment design and production. But Iris van Herpen’s destination might not be as far away as one could imagine. That would have been to miss the quasi-footnote mention of her upcoming ready-to-wear, faced by singer Grimes and to be shown in Paris next March.

- Lily Templeton

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