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Iris van Herpen inspired by fungi for haute couture collection

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

Jan 27, 2021

Iris van Herpen showcased her latest collection ‘Roots of Rebirth’ during Paris Haute Couture Week, with 21 looks inspired by roots and spores.

The collection explores the symbiosis of high technology with artisanal craftsmanship of couture, referencing the “intricacy of fungi and the entanglement of life that breathes beneath our feet,” said the Dutch designer in the show notes.

Iris van Herpen has become known for her ethereal and transcendental designs and for spring/summer 2021 it was mesmerising to see the quiver of the pleats, designed to reference the gills of a mushroom interlinked with lace-like mycelium threads and hand-embroidered roots entwining the body.

The composition of Van Herpen’s Haute Couture garments echoes fungi activity. With glass-organza intricately pleated in an ombré of white to vivid amber, seen branching out from hand-embroidered bodices to form fractal networks. While a mosaic of fine-edged liquescent gills were 3D embroidered onto expandable lace, lasercut to reveal fine details of skin between amethyst hued fibre.

Delicacy and intrigue surround each piece, which looked even more otherworldly when the models seemed to float down the digital catwalk on a cloud of spores.

The ‘Henosis’ dress modelled by Natalia Vodianova embodies the roots of rebirth. The trembling design made of translucent layers of white lace sprouts out of a hand-embroidered bodice into a lasercut venation of hundreds of hovering fins, which form waves with each motion to demonstrate the invisible interconnectedness.

The Dutch couturier also partnered with Parley for the Oceans this season, using upcycled fabric made from marine debris, which was then printed and incised into thousands of fine trilateral tessellations, initiating a fragile symbiosis with the skin through seamless gradients in translucency.

The collection also includes two kinetic crowns created in collaboration with artist Casey Curran, designed to highlight the metamorphosis in the fungi queendom. Each crown gentle shimmers, with transparent monofilament threads, arranged to create a serpentine motion that looks though it is shape-shifting its silhouette as the model walked.

Images: courtesy of Iris van Herpen photographed by Gio Staiano