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Iris Van Herpen Ready To Wear Spring Summer 2015 Paris

The tubular structure of the Pompidou Centre, radically novel for its time, was once considered a blemish on the face of Paris. Similarly, when Iris van Herpen first showed her designs harnessing bleeding edge technologies and materials, they had an alien feel that put them miles beyond the border between fashion and art. And over the years, her collaborations ranged well outside the realm of fashion: architects surch as Philip Beesley, artists like Jolan van der Wiel, the Material Department of MIT, the CERN (of Large Hadron Collider fame)...

The outfits today, however, felt absolutely wearable - save for a couple of sculptural showpieces that quench the thirst for her spectacular couture, like the printed crystal dress created with Niccolo Casas - and despite the manner in which they are conceived, felt no more outlandish in their ornaments than sequined numbers seen on other runways. In her hands, these new shapes and volumes now seem to conform to the body, rather than the reverse. Attraction and repulsion of magnetic fields echoes the sentiment that emanates from van Herpen's work and her particular relationship to forward-leaning technology. For every advance such as the 3D printing that she has been exploiting to create her collection, there is a drawback such as the biopiracy she touched on last season. It is such food for thought that she offers up, and inevitably, upon seeing the elegance of a white dress tumbling with black triacetate feathers, or a black jersey sheath covered in a honeycomb structures down the front, the thought that it is, at this stage, limited to additions to fabric leaves the feeling of being short-changed. Another question felt like it needed asking: when it comes to scaling these technologies for ready-to-wear, and presumably in future, for mass-market, how will they fare compared to handcraft and other technologies such as laser-cutting? 

Whatever the ultimate answers will be over time, there is no denying the artful way in which van Herpen intimately combines cloth and shapes straight out of a fantasy novel to create dresses. They are desirable as garments, as well as masterpieces of modernity. It is no wonder that the Dutch designer has won this year's ANDAM - which comes with a €250,000 purse and mentorship from the industry's finest - considering these silhouettes that were an exercise in control of these seemingly wild new possibilities. More than the garments here, it is the technologies that seem ready to be worn.