Behind the Scenes of Iris van Herpen’s New Couture Collection, Where “Technology Is Simple, and Nature Is Complex”

Those who don’t follow haute couture likely discovered Iris van Herpen in the Met’s ”Manus x Machina: Fashion in the Age of Technology“ exhibit. Her work sat on the lower level of the “Machina” (machine-made) section, where visitors stopped in their tracks at the sight of her silicon “Bird” dress and skeletal pieces made via 3-D printing. Natural isn’t exactly how you’d describe it, but yesterday’s haute couture show was indeed a meditation on nature. “Don’t forget how engineered nature is, itself,” Van Herpen told Vogue’s Amy Verner. “I think we as humans don’t even come close to the intelligence within nature. It’s funny how people think that nature is simple and technology is complex—it’s the opposite; technology is simple and nature is complex.”

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The most natural-feeling part of her collection was its softness. A few tulle dresses seemed to disappear against the skin, and the opening look was almost buoyant. Titled the “Foliage dress,” it was made with a 3-D-printer that used Polyjet technology to print multiple materials at the same time. The 3-D components of the dress were made of a high-tech synthetic resin—something you might find in a science lab, not on a runway—that was printed directly onto sheer, weightless 0.8-milimeter tulle for “optimal softness.” The designer shared a few behind-the-scenes photos of the dress being finished in her atelier with Vogue.

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 Credit: Kory Tung

Credit: Kory Tung