Escapism: “The tendency to escape from daily reality or routine by indulging in daydreaming, fantasy, or entertainment.” (The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007)
Iris van Herpen‘s latest effort shows what Couture should be about: dream. Her digital dreams have been made into reality with the use of computer programs and architectural technology, challenging the boundaries between art and fashion. Clouds and bird-shapes gracefully mingle with dark three-dimensional armours; spiral forms, fractals and repetitions establish a link between the architecture of the first industrialisation and nowadays’ organic trends in both architecture and landscape architecture. Van Herpen challenge complex mathematical theories, ranging from the direction of shells’ spirals to unending geometrical motifs.
Mathematics and imaginary architecture generate a palette which fits the predominant trend for Spring’s Couture: sci-fi. The evocation of external presences and metallic planetary-like surfaces have been seen previously at Givenchy and Armani, but the Dutch designer pushes it even further in a realm of black, white, silver, grey and brown reflections, similar to stellar and meteorological paths. The theme of mirrors and mirroring is also central to the show, with Stephen Jones’ camera- or mirror-hats nodding to the voyeurism of the virtual age. Mirrors emphasize the unending possibilities of these three-dimensional hybrids, of these women standing between dress and sculpture. The mirrors and unending dazzling glare thus project them in an outer-world. Will these women be the future inhabitants of contemporary architecture’s buildings, such as the Tours de la Chapelle by Iñaki Abalos or the Banq Restaurant by Nader Tehrani? Possibly.
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Nader Tehrani, Banq Restaurant, 2009 (photo John Horner)
Such a beautiful fusion between virtual silhouettes and poetic symbolism has not been seen on catwalk since Gianfranco Ferré’s 2009 shows (by Aquilano and Rimondi) and Alexander McQueen’s penultimate show, Atlantis. But by using the pattern to shape the dresses instead of painting or embroidering them, Van Herpen has moved towards an even more striking minimalism, focusing solely on plastic abstractions – both literally and metaphorically, since she often used plastic as a material.
Gianfranco Ferré, SS09
Alexander McQueen, SS10
McQueen’s designs were symmetric in their concept, but they could not achieve a perfect physical symmetry because of the technique that was chosen. Iris Van Herpen’s pieces show at the contrary a perfect axial symmetry, framing the woman in a dress that is always double. What the digital revolution has done is that the woman now carries the mirror within herself: cameras and tools of self-examination, or even self-manipulation, are the common denomination of our virtual culture.
Digital dreaming is therefore an escapism only in appearance, because it ultimately focus unendingly on one’s self, as Van Herpen’s show demonstrates.
The photographies from Iris Van Herpen’s show are from ©Michel Zoeter
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