Monday 3 July 2023

Paris Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24: Iris van Herpen's Futuristic Fashion Inspired by Aquatic Architecture

Exciting biodynamic shapes, futuristic techniques and beautiful materials, inspired by aquatic urbanism, were key to the new haute couture collection by Iris van Herpen. Main photograph above and cover picture by Elli Ioannou for DAM

Iris van Herpen's Autumn/Winter 2023-24 haute couture collection, presented in Paris, drew inspiration from architects, oceanographers, and futuristic floating cities, her creations blurred the boundaries between fashion and architecture. With a palette that echoed the ocean's hues and designs that mirrored the adaptability of marine life, the show took us on a journey through uncharted waters, towards a future where we live on both land and sea, writes Antonio Visconti. Photography by Elli Ioannou

Laser cut designs in sea-colored 
hues suggest architectural forms for
ocean living. 
At the heart of her latest collection, called Architectonics, is Dutch designer Iris van Herpen's exploration of aquatic urbanism. Inspired by the works of Jacques Rougerie, van Herpen bridges the gap between scientific exploration and fashion innovation. 

The collection pays homage to Rougerie's underwater habitats and floating laboratories, translating their structural intricacies into wearable art. Another significant influence is the revolutionary 'Oceanix' floating city in South Korea, designed by architect Bjarke Ingels, which integrates sustainability principles into waterborne urbanism. Vincent Callebaut's ocean architecture projects, including 'Lilypad' and 'Oceanscrapers,' further informed van Herpen's ideas, showcasing the synergy between architectural design, fashion and ecological preservation. 

The Autumn/Winter 2023-24 show was held in the beautiful gardens of the Hôtel d'Avaray, an 18th century mansion located in rue de Grenelle, in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, in the Île-de-France (see below). Built in 1718-20 for the Marquis d'Avaray, it was designed by the architect Jean-Baptiste Leroux. Although it remained in the Avaray family until 1920, it has since been the property of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which made it its embassy from 1920 to 1973. More recently it has served as the ambassador's residence.

The collection pays homage to underwater habitats and floating laboratories, translating their structural intricacies into wearable art

Dutch designer Iris van Herpen wears one 
of her new creations in the gardens of the 
Netherlands ambassador's residence in Paris

A Chromatic Harmony:
Van Herpen showed the 17 new designs amid the greenery, which enhanced the ideas behind her ecological themes. The striking gowns have her signature combination of futuristic technique with an ethereal elegance that makes them seem from another world. 

The laser cut and shaped bodies formed the "trunk" of the tree with the "branches" forming shimmering extrusions around the head and body.  The fluidity of diaphanous fabrics gave the designs the flow and movement that suggest the sea.  

Fashion and Futuristic Urbanism: 
The collection's avant-garde ethos resonates with a radical shift in urban planning and new concepts for more resilient cities of the future. Embracing principles of parametric architecture, the designs embody fluidity, fragmentation, and dynamic patterns. 

Explosive interplays of light and shadow dance around the body, while fractal forms and distorted perspectives redefine conventional fashion boundaries. Van Herpen's fusion of new ideas about fashion and floating architecture is a testament to the designer's commitment to pushing the limits of creativity and innovation. 

The striking gowns have van Herpen's signature combination of futuristic technique and ethereal elegance 
Abalone shell flakes form a
glimmering sheen on this 
striking design

Cutting-edge Techniques:
The collection introduces revolutionary couture techniques that intertwine fashion and architecture. The 'Biophilic' technique involves the intricate bonding of architectural structures to create molds for injecting marble-textured silicone. Abalone shell flakes are hand-inlaid culminating in a play of textures and iridescence (see at left). 

The 'Oceanix' includes graphic polygon patterns that deconstruct and evolve with the body's movement. 'Sensorama,' characterized by 3D fractal formations, creates seductive cutouts within sculptural silhouettes. 

Aquatic Harmony and Elegance: 
The harmonious color palette of the collection embraces oceanic hues, ranging from mint-green and abalone-blue to pearlescent shell shades. Graphic contrasts of white and black are accented with metallic detailing in silver, bronze, and gold. 

The collection's boots were created through digital modeling and 3D printing in collaboration with Scry, along with face jewelry co-designed with Malakai and Rinaldy Yunardi. Each piece tries to express the idea of waterborne urbanism, blurring the lines between human habitation and marine ecosystems. 

The designer challenges us to reimagine our existence and redefine our relationship with the environment

Futuristic face jewellery created 
for the collection with Malakai
and Rinaldy Yunardi. 

Architectural Convergence: 
As concerns over rising sea levels grow, the ideas that inspired van Herpen's work resonate as a response to the urgent need for innovative living spaces. 

With themes drawn from the world's first floating city, and those visionary architects Rougerie and Callebaut, the collection symbolizes a future where humanity seamlessly navigates both land and water. 

Through her work in haute couture, Iris van Herpen challenges us to reimagine our existence and redefine our relationship with the environment, working with ecosystems that define our world.

Bionic architecture has emerged as a response to climate change concerns. This architectural movement integrates biological principles to design self-sufficient structures responsive to environmental shifts. By studying nature's responses to forces, architects create buildings that modify themselves, fostering harmony between society and nature through intricate interactions of form, material, and structure.

Iris van Herpen's Architectonics collection marries these architectural concepts with haute couture, delivering a glimpse into a future where humanity and the oceans can coexist. As our world faces pressing environmental challenges, this collection offers not only a visual feast but also new ideas about creating a more sustainable future. 

Highlights from Iris van Herpen's Architectonics AW 2023-24 Collection in Paris

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