Haute Couture AW20: Iris Van Herpen

IRIS VAN HERPEN is renowned for being a forward-thinking creator, whose avant-garde creations fuse fashion with fantasy. At Paris Couture Week, the razzmatazz of Van Herpen’s sartorial extravaganza normally transports its spectators to a futuristic world in which artisanal craftsmanship meets technological innovation and scientific influence.

Amid the tension and turmoil of the coronavirus pandemic, however, the Dutch designer has had to make use of technology to showcase her Fall 2020 Couture in the form of an eponymous short film, which unconsciously pays homage to her roots.

In contrast to her previous Couture Collections, Van Herpen has focused on creating a single dress. Entitled Transmotion, the dress is modelled in the film by mesmeric muse and Game of Thrones star Carice Van Houten, who is also of Dutch origins. This collaboration between two women of the same origins is in part an attempt to celebrate those who are within close physical proximity to us – something we can all agree is important after months of social isolation.

In the film directed by Ryan McDaniels, Van Houten embodies the Transmotion dress that radiates in a diaphanous bloom of white silk organza, its sheer layers pleated within the confines of a romantic, undulating form. Black branches of duchess satin were laser-cut, hand-stitched and form the central root of the garment, which contrasts with the fragility of the plissé fabric.

Taking inspiration from the intricate art of Ruth Asawa, which challenges the conventional notions of material and form, the geometric lattice punctuated with seed-like crystals represents delicate new life, which symbolically branches from the centre of the female body.

Van Herpen is the true master of contrasts, juxtaposing everything from materials and colours to design approaches and methods. And the result? Often, it is a wonderful symbiosis of art and nature, of craftsmanship and innovation. This enables Van Herpen to continue to push the boundaries of fashion design – and in turn, to preserve couture as an art form.

Despite her decision not to present a full collection for Fall 2020, Van Herpen has quite literally planted – or stitched – the seeds of a new beginning and a new collection, which will bud and bloom in January 2021. Until then, though, allow yourself to drift and dream by watching the Transmotion Dress come to life in the short film below.

by Rhiannon Jenkins



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