The first encounter with Iris van Herpen’s wares was the flash of Tilda Swinton’s white blond hair and the sight of her spiny jacket disappearing down the steps of the mystery-addled Silencio club. Down below, the throbbing, thrumming rhythm of the music seemed to give reason to the title “Embossed Sounds” as it resonated deeply like a heartbeat. “No pictures,” barked a member of staff as journalists pulled out their smart devices to immortalize a model writhing against the gold bricks of a wall.
Ambience wise, this was a dip into a dark future’s club. As models dragged their arms across each other, faces as close as to kiss, there was the disquieting feeling of playing gooseberry to a highly private flirtation – the notion of gender here seemed to matter very little. This is probably exactly the kind of occasion this club was built for. The soundtrack was generated by every touch on the garments, turning the pressing of a raised element into a note that cascaded throughout the club.
This season, Van Herpen has perfected the transition between her high-flying couture and the demands of ready-to-wear. There isn’t much protruding from silhouettes here, save for 3D silicone imprints on leather which models were pressing on each other as if playing on some alien musical instrument. Leather-looking shift dresses (the tough looking models felt a little too formidable to peruse up-close), flowing Fortuny pleats in metallic laminated material, her signature organic cage designs, they all contributed to creating a silhouette that is as sharply defined as the cheekbones of her short-haired models. The geometric designs had something futuristically tribal about them, as if this musical chorus was the sign of recognition of van Herpen’s next tribe. Shimmering material, cut into a trench and a jacket, had a liquid sheen to them. Even when pushed far into androgyny by shaved heads, razor sharp jackets and combat boots, these fierce silhouettes exuded a deep femininity. But even if you love music, beware: Iris van Herpen’s women looked like the kind not to be touched without their permission.