#SuzyCouture: Iris van Herpen Proves That The Future Is Now

I don’t believe in modernism in couture – today’s couture should reach out to the past,” said Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli, whose show was indisputably the most powerful, moving and important of Paris fashion week.

Yet however strong his work, I have to differ with the designer on his dedication to modernising historical materials and their construction. Even by making them infinitely lighter and easier to wear, his choice of fabrics and aesthetic are still rooted in the past.

The only designer in the Spring 2019 couture season who embraced absolutely that ‘the future is now’ was Iris van Herpen. Yet the Dutch designer found inspiration in the distant past – specifically in the 1660 constellation atlas Harmonia Macrocosmica by Dutch-German cartographer Andreas Cellarius who created a preliminary map of the heavens.

But Van Herpen’s translation of cosmic effects on dresses looked entirely modern in this collection named ‘Shift Souls’.

“I looked at the evolution of the human shape, its idealisation through time and the hybridisation of the female forms within mythology,” the designer explained.

“The imagination and fluidity in Japanese mythology gave me the inspiration to explore the deeper meaning of identity and how immaterial and mutable it can become.”

The other transformation was in her use of colour. The depth of brown lightening to orange and honey, the deep celestial blue and the olive-green made an imaginative canvas of just 18 outfits.

The fabric was brought closer to the female form, outlining the body shape or sitting in puffy clouds on the skin. That made this Van Herpen’s collection far more ‘body-friendly’ than previously, when models might be tortured with shards of glass or other unwearable creations.

But this was not a collection to suggest that the designer had fallen to earth, leaving behind her celestial fashion cosmos. Both in imagination and execution, Van Herpen is still way up there.