Since showing with Vauxhall Fashion Scout in 2010, Dutch designer Iris van Herpen has generated an en-masse following and picked up several design awards along the way. Her recent showing at Paris’ Couture Fashion Week has fast garnered more attention, earning her the acclaim of the creative industry’s most influential insiders.
Van Harpen’s Spring couture collection presented spectator’s with a spectrum of silvers and glossy blacks in thigh-skimming silhouettes that would suggest directional design, pushing couture futher into the future. However, whilst the collection seemed fundamentally futuristic, the crux of Van Harpen’s designs was the exploration of the atypically feminine. Using cylindrically-arranged plexiglass paillettes to trace the contours of the female form, the Dutch designer suggested a fluidity that showcased her unique ability to capture motion in the utterly immovable.
This suggestion of fluidity is in stark contrast to the duskier, earthy hues of the sharp-shouldered, cut-out bodices itermittedly punctuating the collection. It’s this contrast that reinforce’s Van Harpen’s claims that the essense of her work lies in her ability to create “forms that compliment and change the body, thus emotion”, as the previously irridescent contours are immediately stripped back to cut a harsher- decidedly hostile figure.
Van Harpen reminds us of her feminine futurism as quickly as she stripped it away by reintroducing the shimmering silk of the opening sheath dress. However, this time with plexiglass embellishments that- from a distance- imply a softness, but upon inspection sharply instruct you to “look, but NOT touch”. A temperament all too familiar to those of you with women in your life, I’m sure...
All things considered, it’s certainly a collection that has us proverbially poking our tongues out and teasing “nurr, we found her first...!”, as the rest catch-up and marvel at her manipulation of ancient craft and modern, digital technique. Whether it’s the feminine modernity of this Avant-Garde’s silhouhettes and structures, or the simple fact that her name is one you’ll become familiar with: Iris van Harpen embodies futurism- however you choose to look at it.
... now just imagine the talent waiting to be showcased by our A/W12 designers.
Sara McAlpine VFS Contributor.
Follow her @sara_mcalpine