Iris Van Herpen Merges Fashion and Science in Fall 2016 Collection

Would you wear a sound wave? At the July 4 couture shows in Paris, that’s what models did as they presented Iris Van Herpen’s striking collection for fall 2016. In the Eglise Réformée de L’Oratoire du Louvre, the models, clad in Van Herpen’s couture, moved meditatively to the accompaniment of Zen bowl sounds by Japanese musician Kazuya Nagaya, creating an otherworldly fusion of visual art and music.

Designed as an homage to the field of cymatics, which is the visualization of sound waves as geometric patterns, Van Herpen’s high-fashion creations are delicate, strange, and beautiful in much the same way that patterns found throughout nature are. Though they don’t resemble traditional fashion items – indeed, it would be hard to pull off wearing Van Herpen’s sound-inspired garments anywhere outside a fashion show – the dresses are fascinating in their odd, intricate design as well as the technology used to painstakingly assemble them.

Van Herpen has a history of integrating cutting-edge technology into her fashion designs. To create her collection for fall 2016, Van Herpen used unusual materials such as thousands of tiny, hand-blown glass bubbles, translucent material made of Swarovski water drop crystals in silicone, and fragile Japanese organza woven from threads five times thinner than human hair. Arresting and memorable, Van Herpen’s fusion of geometry, sound, and ingenious craft will charm lovers of science and creative fashion alike.

Fashion and Technology Meet at Paris Fashion Show

At her couture fashion show on July fourth, Dutch designer Iris Van Herpen showed how fashion can merge with technology to make truly breathtaking pieces. The designer’s strangely beautiful dresses were inspired by cymatics, or the visual representations of sound waves. The clothing was symmetrical and featured geometric shapes, with textures and patterns resembling honeycombs, insect shells and wings, bubbles, and marine life. The dresses played with volume, dimensions, and material in a unique way.

According to Van Herpen, creating the line took a lot of trial and error. Because she worked with delicate, unconventional fabrics, getting the pieces to come out according to her vision was time consuming. Her “dewdrop dress,” created by suspending Swarovski crystals in a silicone dress, took lots of experimentation to achieve the perfect shape and stretch to make it wearable.

This heavy use of technology and science is rare to find in fashion, especially couture. Couture designers pride themselves on not using mass production methods and utilize “petites mains,” highly skilled craftspeople who sew and decorate the pieces on display in the world’s most extravagant fashion shows. Some pieces from Van Herpen’s show did still require this painstaking handiwork, however. One example is a dress made of tiny handblown glass spheres glued together with liquid silicone. This dress is a perfect example of the designer’s over the top, unforgettable style.