Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen is known as much for her bold sense of theatrics on the runway as she is for her avant-garde, 3-D printed designs. This year’s Paris Fashion Week was no exception. To present her Quaquaversal ready-to-wear collection, van Herpen opened the show with Game of Thrones actress Gwendoline Christie laying on a circular plinth as three robotic arms live-knitted an intricate metal mesh gown for her.
Covered in spiky, “grown” magnets, the robotic weavers employed a technique used previously in her Autumn 2013 collection, and looked a bit like cloaked mythical creatures.
The surreal spectacle is relatively tame in comparison to her fashion week shows of previous years–which have involved models that were shrink-wrapped and spewing electricity atop a Tesla coil–but was no less impressive.
“The live process blends different techniques–laser cutting, hand weaving and 3-D printing into one dress, which spreads from the centre, quaquaversal in its geometries,” van Herpen says in a statement.
The mastermind behind many of Bjork and Lady Gaga’s futuristic costumes, van Herpen has made a name for herself fusing high fashion with science and technology. For her haute couture collections, she’s constructed a tube dress that looks like it was frozen in ice and based an entire collection on photos of lice taken under a microscope. In recent years, she’s expanded to ready-to-wear collections as well.
“In couture, I really feel that I have to develop something fully new,” she tells The Cut in 2014. “Ready-to-wear is really a moment where I can give the new techniques and materials a longer story, that I can develop into something wearable and producible for factories.
In this collection, lace was the key ingredient. Her pieces were made from a fine organic lace from Calais, a graphic maze-like lace, an iridescent changeant silver lace, and leather lace embedded with Swarovski ceramic stones. Fantastical 3-D printed shoes created in collaboration with United Nude–a van Herpen trademark–also graced the stage, their heels based on the shape of tree roots.
The inspiration for the collection, van Herpen says, comes from the tree bridges in India, living bridges made from banyan tree roots that grow across rivers and gorges. “The beautiful potential of plants and other organisms to form living architecture inspired me to make a collection that is tangled like a maze around the body.”