‘Alien’ may be the best word to describe Iris van Herpen’s designs, yet they are far from otherworldly. Founded in a fascination with biology and medicine, each piece explores the workings of science from earth’s perspective. The designer’s AW13 couture collection took shape as an ethereal exploration of organisms and exoskeletons, cocoon-like silhouettes mixing with sculpted rubber corsetry in a balance of bodily proportions. Veiny tendrils formed shoes and hung from hips and shoulders as if suspended from the air. Ribbed detailing was insectile while a bronze kimono hovered like a moth. Scratched patterns and piercings evoked human scarification.
Suffice to say van Herpen’s recent launch of a ready-to-wear line hasn’t dulled her sense of drama. If anything, it has heightened it. Working on the cusp of technology, the designer consulted architects and scientists alike to produce elements of the collection with the aid of 3D printing. Technology fanatic? Perhaps. Regardless, it’s clear that van Herpen is determined to push the boundaries of the three-dimensional space surrounding the body.