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Couture AW19: Iris van Herpen ‘Hypnosis’

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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Dutch couturier Iris van Herpen has always had a way of mesmerising with her fantasy fashion made with cutting-edge technology, with movement a key theme, and for autumn/winter 2019 her haute couture collection showcased in Paris's Élysée Montmartre was inspired by the wind-powered kinetic outdoor work of American artist Anthony Howe.

"The 'Hypnosis' collection is a hypnotic visualisation of nature’s tapestry, the symbiotic cycles of our biosphere that interweave the air, land, and oceans,” explained Iris van Herpen in the show notes. “It also reflects the ongoing dissection of the rhythms of life and resonates with the fragility within these interwoven worlds.’

Hypnotic is the right word, the collection finds inspiration through the hypnotic manifolds within our ecologies, reflecting the beauty and destruction of humans on nature’s lifestyles, with an examination of the patterns and structures in what the couturier describes as a “fragile landscape”.

This is showcased through Howe’s three-dimensional cyclical spherical 'Omniverse' sculpture, which is described as the “wind beneath the wings of this couture collection” and the infinite expansion and contraction, represents life cycles, while the “meditative movements” of the hypnotic spirals of the installation hung above the catwalk served as a portal for the collection and models.

Iris van Herpen displays cutting-edge technology with AW19 couture collection

To create her technological 'Hypnosis' couture, van Herpen collaborated with Professor Philip Beesley to create a technique that involves tens of thousands of plotter cut mini ripples that continuously dissect the dress through each movement of the body, revealing skin in between the whimsical spheroid patterns. The printed Duchesse-satin is plotter cut into thousands of 0.8 mm exquisite waves that each are interlinked, designed to move faster than the eye can follow.

While the ‘Dichotomy' looks are laser-printed, heat-bonded and laser-cut into contra-positive waves. Each dissected curve is then pressed onto hundreds of ripple-like panels that ebb and flow in an exquisite swell of meticulously hand-stitched silk organza.

Key looks included the finale 'Infinity' dress, which was brought to life through a finely balanced mechanism. The engineered skeleton of spirals made of aluminium, stainless steel and bearings, was embroidered with a delicate layering of feathers in cyclical flight, which revolves around its own centre.

While other dresses looked like ink floating on water cascading down the body, as an interpretation of the Japanese art of Suminagashi, where liquid lines of shimmering dyed silk were cut by laser technique, before being pressed with heat on transparent tulle, so that they seem to flow seamlessly over the skin.

Another stunning look was constructed from multi-layered luminous organza spheres, which challenge the relationship between surface and substance through illusory patterns that wrap into each other infinitely, to create a blurring pattern.

Images: courtesy of Iris van Herpen

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