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Biopiracy

During her autumn winter 2014 Haute Couture fashion show in Paris this week, designer Iris van Herpen showed models vacuum-packed in lunch bags. 

By Cassandra Pizzey / 06-03-2014

Iris van Herpen is slowly but surely becoming a permanent fixture in the Paris Haute Couture  scene as she presents her sixth collection to date during Paris Fashion Week. Biopiracy shows the designers technical skill and embracing of new materials and techniques.

Dutch designers are known for ‘challenging’ their models as they strut down the catwalk as we have seen on numerous occasions before. Winde Rienstra for instance with her impossibly high heels that call for last-minute chaperones, or a more playful take by Bas Kosters, who presented this year during London Fashion Week and sent a male model down the catwalk sporting, well, nothing. 

Iris van Herpen though has taken it to a whole other level this time as her models were placed in zip-lock bags and vacuum packed live on stage. The idea came from a collaboration with a befriended artist and can of course, be seen as comment on consumerism. It is an understandable one from a designer who bends materials to her own will, and creates one-off, wearable artworks. Why the same method was applied earlier that day by Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel – the catalyst for must-haves – is a mystery to me.

Let us then focus then on what Van Herpen showed us on the catwalk itself. Her bolero jackets and dresses with round shoulders have become a signature and this time were executed in what we can only describe as ‘Dragon skin’, a combination of printed leather and laser cutting. 

It is however fluidity that Van Herpen has focussed on in this collection, executing her take on metallics so perfectly, it seemed like the models were wearing liquids instead of textiles which were a combination of silk and plastic. A range of outfits passed by in various colour-tinged metallics including a a number of flowing gowns, a cape and tailored dresses.

What can only be described as a bubble-wrap peacock dress showed the designer’s ongoing love of technical possibilities whereas a series of very feminine knee-length dresses illustrated her softer side. The finale featured a 3D-printed dress from soft rubber which looked so light it almost resembled ostrich feathers. 

Van Herpen collaborated with Dutch shoe brand United Nude for the ninth consecutive time and created what almost looked like pieces of armour. The boots feature a cantilever heel and are made from leather, wrapping round the knee and open at the back. A slightly toned-down version again featuring a cantilever heel but with a peep toe are sure to become a great hit with the public. 

www.irisvanherpen.com