High-Tech Meets Haute Couture


High-Tech Meets Haute Couture

The futuristic designs of Iris van Herpen.

Iris van Herpen is haute couture’s it girl. Since her debut in 2007, the Dutch designer has taken the world’s runways by storm, pushing the boundaries of runway fashion with garments made possible by cutting-edge technology. This design darling is bringing couture into the 21st century, and we’re here for it.

Image Courtesy of dezeen

IvH’s work combines traditional couture techniques with futuristic tech to create clothing that seems to defy physics. Take the “Glitch Dress”: a piece made from laser-cut mylar that “floats” on a moving model. Debuting in her Spring 2017 Between the Lines collection (inspired by lines of computer code), the dress wowed critics. To create it, IvH and her team used a computer-directed laser to carefully cut mylar (the same material used in NASA space shuttles), then hand-sewed the final form. IvH states that the garment was inspired by “digital glitches, and how errors can actually make things more beautiful”. The signature piece, which has reappeared in multiple lines since 2017, is the perfect example of how IvH utilizes technology both as her medium and her muse.

IvH once again dominated fashion week with her most recent show, spring 2019’s Soul Shift. Sculptural dresses inspired by human-animal hybrids walked the runway surrounded by a laser light installation by artist Nick Verstand. In a press release, IvH explained hybrid inspiration came both from advances in genetic engineering and mythological creatures.

“With the advances in DNA engineering and the first successful creations of human-animal hybrids called cybrids, the mythological dreams of humankind since the dawn of civilization are shifting to the canvas of science.”

Iris van Herpen on Soul Shift

The process for making the line was almost as complicated as the pieces themselves. Each dress demanded a unique approach that often required the IvH team to collaborate with outside companies, both in fashion and tech.

Looks that appeared in Soul Shift included fabrics printed with photographs of clouds (the result of a collaboration with Kim Keever, an artist and a former NASA engineer), and a dress made from gradient-dyed silk on a laser-cut skeleton made from PETG, a plastic resin. The resin dress alone required over two months of work from the IvH studio.

Image Courtesy of dezeen

The highlight of the show was a dress consisting of 1,100 separate panels. The IvH team used a computer-imaged the dress in 3D, then translated the design into 2D Illustrator files to use as guides for printing the panels. The finished panels were hand-applied to a base to create the dress.

As technology continues to advance, so will IvH’s designs and creative process. In an interview with Futur404, the brand’s Commercial Director, Paul van As, commented:

“It’s a combination of computer and seeing how it behaves on a body …. It would be way easier if we could 3D print this all at a time, but this is not possible yet.”

Many of the looks in Soul Shift were completed with face jewelry that came from a collaboration with the Delft University of Technology. Models’ faces were digitally mapped using a 3D-scanner, showing shifts in density that were then used to create printed designs that mimicked mythological creatures.

Image Courtesy of Iris van Herpen

Critics and fashionistas alike are huge fans of IvH’s work – and for good reason. Her designs break the haute couture status-quo and introduce innovation to an industry that’s been struggling with monotony. As her popularity has grown, we’ve seen new designers with fresh visions emerge on the couture scene. Meanwhile, IvH herself has continued to evolve and develop new methods to execute a design vision that’s as forward-thinking as the tech used to create it. We’re not-so-patiently waiting to see what she comes up with next.

Watch the full Soul Shift show:

Featured image Courtsey of First Classe

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