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The set at Iris Van Herpen AW14Shot by Louise Damgaard

Iris Van Herpen AW14

Models suspended in human installations and skeletal silhouettes that question ‘biopiracy’

Initial reaction:

Iris van Herpen has a powerful ability to draw her inspiration from the complex corners of the imagination, science and the digital word – but today, her proposal was something far more personal and political. The collection was called ‘biopiracy’ and she asked: ‘are we the sole proprietors of our body?’

Suspended women:

Van Herpen worked with Belgian artist Lawrence Malstaf on an at once ethereal and disturbing installation. As we entered the show space, three models were stood inside plastic vacuum packs that divided the runway. Once the show started, the vacuum packs condensed, manipulating the oxygen pipes so that the plastic wrapped tightly around their bodies. They appeared weightless and suspended; human installations.


Last season was a sensory experience for the audience as we became immersed in a world where touch-sensitive garments orchestrated the sound of the show space, led by models such as Casey Legler. This season, we were outsiders. Forced to take on the perverse role of a voyeur. We felt uncomfortable as we watched the models struggle to get comfortable in their encased position, and appear to slowly suffocate.

Stand out look:

For a collection that, for the most, stayed close to the human skeletal form – with Van Herpen’s signature rounded, corseted silhouette – a final 3D look was unexpected and exaggerated. A bobbled black material swooped over the neck like a high priestess collar, before reducing into a stiff A-line, backless dress. Like a sudden crescendo in a song, the next piece had been diminished to soft, form-following feathers.

How they wore it:

With sculptural platform shoes that from the front reached up the leg like a boot, but then at the back it had been sliced out leaving just a knee strap and the platform heel. It tricked the eye into believing the leg was contorted in unimaginable bends.