Long known for her ethereal creations and technology-aided design process, Iris van Herpen looked to some of nature’s most otherworldly living things to infuse her latest Haute Couture collection, this season these were fungi and other organic forms found below and slightly above the earth’s surface.
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In past seasons, she explored the work of graphic artist M.C. Escher’s mathematically inspired lithographs and the kinetic sculptures of Anthony Howe. For the Spring/Summer 2021 couture season, however, the Dutch designer looked to the natural world for inspiration, in particular the biologist Merlin Sheldrake’s research suggesting plant life communicates via a complex underground network he dubbed the ‘’wood wide web’’.
The goal was to create a collection, entitled ‘’Roots of Rebirth’’, that ‘’references the intricacy of fungi and the entanglement of life that breathes beneath our feet’’, the designer detailed in a press release.
With the introduction of one-off pieces made using 3D printing, van Herpen showed that one-of-a-kind designs can also be achieved using technology.
For this season, the Dutch couturier collaborated with Parley for the Oceans to include recycled plastics in sustainable materials that are, in her view, are of couture quality for the first time ever.
Each dress was a staggering feat of haute engineering and couture finesse, and each had a unique personality and quality. Even the show itself contained subtle references to the mycological: as the models walk across the floor, tiny particles appear to arise around them, referencing the thousands of spores that mushrooms release as a means of reproduction.
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©Iris van Herpen