Iris van Herpen always thinks outside the box. The Dutch couturier has long defined her brand of couture with technology, one of the few haute designers to fuse modern technology and decades-old craftsmanship successfully. She was, then, perhaps more equipped than most to deal with Couture Week’s digital revolution, well-versed in the viral language. Her new proposition of couture is evident of this; a single dress, the agency of technology, the medium of film and a digital platform to stream it all on.
Her short film, ‘Transmotion’, takes us on an experiential voyage into the inner workings of van Herpen’s process. It stars Dutch actress Carice van Houten – or Melisandre from ‘Game of Thrones‘ – the second star Van Herpen has used from HBO’s hit. In 2015, she cast fellow GOT actress Gwendoline Christie in her Spring/Summer 2016 show, where Christie lay flat in the centre of the runway on a stone platform as a dress was three-dimensionally printed on her in real-time. This year, van Herpen executed a similar practise, however with van Houten as her muse and without an audience (as per the pandemic’s restraints).
Filmmaker Ryan McDaniels traced the birth and anatomy of van Herpen’s creation, which was intended to reflect the nature of perception. “The dress has little black seeds that connect to stems that connect to branches that grow into very fragile translucent leaves, and it all sprouts from the center of the body,” van Herpen told the New York Times. “It is about birth and growth and formation. I wanted to express the experience of these last months without being literal, and symbolize the new beginning of things.”
Of her breathtaking creation, Iris van Herpen wrote the following:
“The ‘Transmotion’ dress radiates in a diaphanous bloom of white silk organza, translucent layers pleated within the confines of an undulating form. Contrasted against the frailty of the sheer petals, black branches of duchess satin were laser-cut, hand-stitched and form the central roots of the garment.
This geometric lattice recalls humankind’s inclination to tame nature. Beneath the surface, the branching also reveals the synonymity of mycorrhizal networks (the Wood Wide Web) and the symbiotic nature within human communities.
Like fronds frozen in time, crystalline filaments sprout from the heart of the dress. Portraying delicate new life, black seed-like crystals punctuate the tip of each stamen like strand.
The concept of the creation stems from the notion of growth and regeneration. The seemingly simple seed is the embodiment of life and the potential that comes with it. A seed embedded upside down in dirt still sees the seedling growing the right way up.
The dress follows symmetry in both its axis and without context, indiscernible which way is up or down. Motion and fluidity involved in the formation of tessellations highlight the capacity to shift between negatives and positives.”
Watch the film below: