The tale of creating couture for digital audience
Dutch designer Iris Van Herpen, has never followed the traditional linear model of fashion, she has always aimed to experiment and innovate. Her designs are a crescendo of theatricality and glamour usually made through different techniques and out-of-the box collaborations.
Futuristic fashion has stayed etched to the designer’s creations since her debut collection in 2007. She amalgamates new-age technology with traditional couture craftsmanship. The sculptural nature and unfamiliar-avante garde form of garments, has made her creative aesthetics, fashion forward. Herpen who hails from Amsterdam showcased at the Paris Couture Week in 2011 and this year, was her first digital showcase. Sticking to utilising 3D printing as a garment construction technique, this year too the sartorial sensibilities stayed intact. However, the show was a challenge to create.
“The planning of a digital fashion show in itself would not be a huge challenge, but creating and filming in the midst of the pandemic was a big challenge. For our ‘ Transmotion’ film, we collaborated with the incredible actress Carice van Houten. As collaboration is about sharing vision and ideas together, usually I would want to sit down with Carice to share and create concept. This wasn’t possible, so parts of the process were more intuitive. The filming was planned just before the Paris Digital Fashion Week would go live, so we all had some sleepless nights before going live,” says Herpen.
Her atelier this time had been different due to the Covid-19. There were a few changes she adopted while designing the collection due to the pandemic. All together it took two months with the sampling phase, the material experiments, and the creative process of design and finally the making. Most of the suppliers and companies they work with were also closed, so every little step in the process needed to change. “While the team was working from home, the collaborations that we often include in the creative process with artists, scientists and architects were not possible. Through biomimicry I look at the forces behind the forms in nature, these endless mysteries within nature create a huge influence on my work. The collaborations are a laboratory of style and give expression to this research to the ingenious patterns within nature. We had to be creative in other ways,” she adds.
Ask her which show - physical or digital - she enjoyed more and she would gleefully say, “there is a different magic to both!” Herpen adds, “The beauty of a physical show is the sharing of a magical moment together, it’s like a ritual that the designer and the audience shares, where the concentration, the energy, the emotions are all so present and celebrated. But the physical shows are very quick, the audience goes from one to another and there is not much space for elaborating and expressing a deeper meaning, concept and layering to the collection. The online has a wider spectrum of storytelling and more freedom in the message you want to bring and how you bring that storytelling.”
She agrees that the physical shows and the digital shows should complement each other and that the digital experience of fashion is a powerful additive to the charismatic moments of the runway shows but believes, a physical show shouldn’t die. “Lesser physical shows is a great move forward, creating lesser environmental damage and as physical shows are so exorbitant to produce, its progress for the brands and the consumer to lower the frequency of them. We should not replace this beautiful ritual, as it’s the heart of fashion and fashion’s community, the art of fashion still needs a physical place to share, to, celebrate, to connect with the creativity and vision of fashion,” concludes Herpen.