Iris van Herpen is a revolutionary designer who is constantly pushing the boundaries of fashion, incorporating elements of science and technology into her work. Her latest haute couture collection, which was unveiled in a film format, is a prime example of her unique approach to couture.
The Dutch designer partnered with French free diver and choreographer Julie Gautier to showcase her Spring/Summer 2023 haute couture collection in a powerful and symbolic way. The footage, shot in the Y-40 pool in Italy, one of the deepest man-made pools in the world, featured garments that were meant to be worn underwater as a tribute to the female protestors in Iran. van Herpen believes that the medium of going underwater required a different strength and took away the voice, which fits perfectly with the collection’s political message.
The film showcases the designer’s signature fluid forms, corseted looks, and diaphanous gowns made of organic silk and recycled polyester that undulate in the water like exotic jellyfish in shades of bruised purple and red. The most moving part of the film comes when Gautier, wearing a corset adorned with streams of bright-red human and synthetic hair, begins to scream, only to be met with a silent stream of bubbles. The scene is a powerful symbol of the struggle for freedom and the futility of protest in the face of oppression.
Iris van Herpen is currently preparing for a retrospective of her work at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, set to open in November 2023. The exhibition will highlight the designer’s unique place in the fashion world and her ability to use fashion as a way to express identity, culture, and values. The designer hopes that her latest collection will remind people of the brave female protestors fighting for their lives across the world and the importance of using fashion as a platform for political and social issues.