Inspired by Domitille Kiger’s artistic, choreographed free-flying – Domitille Kiger is the French female world-champion skydiver – and also the landmark photo “Earthrise”, captured by the Apollo 8 crew of our planet peeking out from beyond the lunar surface, the Iris van Herpen Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2021 collection narrated the circular processes that usher change in our sentient world by weaving a symbiotic thread between artisanal tailoring and organic craftsmanship, derived from the perception of our world as one living and breathing organism.
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Her film showed Kiger plummeting headfirst toward Earth – for real – in a heavily embroidered gown that stretches and twitches traveling at 300 kilometers per hour. Through the extreme speed and Kiger’s choreography, while sky-dancing, the custom Haute Couture gown revealed the turbulence of the intricate handwork. Made from thousands of blue spheres in colour gradients, embodying our “blue marble” home, the gown spun off in dazzling twists in an array of directions simultaneously.
The ultimate intricacy, softness and delicacy of Haute Couture were merged for the first time with the extreme sport of skydiving which required ultimate resilience and toughness. “For ‘Earthrise’ it has been my dare to push delicate three-dimensional craftsmanship into the extreme spheres of 300 km an hour resilience-finding the ultimate corners of durability in the craftsmanship of Haute Couture”, said Iris van Herpen in the show note.
Typifying the feeling of unity, this season the maison collaborated also with the Icelandic artist James Merry, the kinetic artist Casey Curran and French-British artist Rogan Brown. Spanning three looks in the collection, the atelier seamlessly weaved in Brown’s distinctive aesthetic which was inspired by the tradition of scientific illustration and results in incredibly detailed, delicate relief sculptures made from the accretion of multiple layers. Akin to the designer’s vision, process and materiality were paramount as large hand and laser-cut pieces were dissected from sheet after sheet of paper in careful scientific fashion with scalpel knife or laser, sometimes taking months to complete, the slow act of cutting repeating the long time-based processes that dominate nature: growth, decay and re-growth. The meticulous detailing went beyond the eye’s perception, where fabric was torn and expanded in multiple directions simultaneously through powerful force. The fabric’s evolution from plant, to weave, to plant again was mirrored in the various stages in these looks.
As a continuation of Iris van Herpen’s dedication to sustainability, the collection marked a further chapter with Parley for the Oceans. Raising awareness of the fragility of our blue marble, multiple looks, in addition to the ones created in collaboration with Brown and the Skydive gown for Kiger, were crafted from Parley Ocean Plastic made from upcycled marine debris by Parley’s Global Cleanup Network.
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©Iris van Herpen