In her Haute Couture Fall Winter 2021/2022 presentation, Dutch designer Iris van Herpen merges her creations with the natural elements.
Renowned for her futuristic, whimsical, and darkly fantastical aesthetic, Iris van Herpen actively pushes boundaries to question what couture is and what it can be. In Earthrise, the Dutch designer’s latest collection, she ponders on the concept of freedom and, as always, woman empowerment through three-dimensional printed couture pieces.
The set by the forward-thinking designer is made of mainly recycled plastic in collaboration with the global alliance Parley for the Oceans. While for creative execution, she works with James Merry for the showcase’s face jewelry and Rogan Brown for the hand-cut paper sculptures.
“The perspective of us human beings being the most dominant and important part of this planet is, of course, an old-fashioned one by now,” Van Herpen tells Vogue. “There are still people thinking that way, but we are definitely at a point in time where their perspective is shifting. Science is telling us, but I think art is also really enhancing that new perspective. And especially the young generation is feeling it more and more.”
With Van Herpen’s intention to spread a multilayered viewpoint that science, earth, and people are all interconnected, she could have known that Earthrise’s presentation had to be stimulating.
In a demonstration of how the collection’s pieces come to life when exposed to the elements, models were filmed on mountain tops, running through hills, and Free Fly World Champion Domitille Kiger was shot skydiving in a couture gown.
Getting dive ready
Van Herpen is known for having tiered definitions behind everything she presents. With that, Kiger’s ensemble for the dive was calculated, tried, and tested. She tells Vogue that it was a challenge to “merge the delicacy of the craftsmanship with the extreme durability that is needed within the jump.”
Van Herpen and her design team exposed the blue-hued dress to wind tunnels used for indoor skydiving during multiple trial run stages. “It was really a challenge because I must admit when I started, I had a lot of misconceptions on what would work, and what wouldn’t,” the 37-year old says.
In the end, Kiger wore the dress, which made her look as if she had the power of flight. In addition, Van Herpen says that the delicate yet durable characteristics of the dress were necessary, given Kiger works in a male-dominated field.
A new era
Now that the world is slowly opening up, vaccine rollouts remain steady, and travel is becoming a possibility again, the designer is riding off that transition in Earthrise. People are now shifting their gears and preparing to enter the world again, and Van Herpen says that it’s time for recalibration.
Looking at the earth from outer space,” said van Herpen, you “see a borderless place without hierarchies, and you can really see that it is one living organism, and that is actually a really old concept, which is called anima mundi. More and more, even through science, we start understanding that religious thought is actually real, everything depends on everything.”
Banner photo from @domikiger on Instagram.