Whilst the blog has been on the sparse side of things, my first properly full haute couture week in Paris has not.  A one-plus day absence makes me itch and now there are blog posts aplenty mounting, all to do with FANCY.  As in, how fancy everything is in haute couture.  Essentially it's been three and a half days of taking in completely unnecessary, highly indulgent and pure and unadulterated fanciness.  There's nothing "easy" about most of the things I've seen and for that I'm grateful.  Relevance can be pushed aside for the moment and instead, the goal is to feast the eyes with an excess of craftsmanship, decoration and boundless creativity.  

First up a revisit to Dutch fashion visionary Iris Van Herpen, who has always operated in her own haute couture sphere, pushing innovative techniques.  She has started to dip her toes into ready-to-wear (modelled by Grimes no less) but it's her off-the-cuff haute couture shows which have earnt her something of a cult following.  When I went to her show two years ago, she had just begun to experiment with 3-D printing involving .mgx files and a Belgian company called Materialise.  Thanks to EU research funding, what started as a university spin-off has grown to a multinational company.  Last time she created cage-like structures from 3-d printing.  This time, she has created a real soft garment – a seamless and made-to-measure dress with transparent bone-like structures produced with Materialise's mammoth stereolithography machine aka the "printer" as it were that can produce one large piece layer by layer.  What should have been a dress with multiple steps and complicated processes if made tradtionally has now been brought to life through 3-D printing in one swift motion, as one single piece.  

Here comes the science… 

The design was first created on a computer before being optimised for 3D printing using Materialise software.  At this point flaws or obstacles were fixed before work continued and the design was sent to the printer.  The design was then brought to life using Mammoth Stereolithography, which creates objects layer by layer. UV lasers scan the design into a liquid resin that hardens wherever the laser hits and the 3D object gradually comes to life.

Van Herpen therefore makes another great leap towards establishing 3-D printing as a clearly possible and maybe even inevitable method for the manufacturing of unique pieces of clothing that can be brought to market quickly.  Obviously Van Herpen isn't using the technique for that reason in her haute couture collections but she is subverting the parameters of couture by employing a machine to create a piece that arguably can't be created by the "petite mains" no matter how skilled that person was, just by nature of the materials used.  The dress here and the neckpiece paired with a texturised silicone cage dress are the results of Van Herpen's latest foray into 3-D printing by Materialise.  

Iris Van Herepen FW 13 Press-8815

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Iris Van Herepen FW 13 Press-8744

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In the rest of the collection Van Herpen continues to carve out her own niche of boundary pushing techniques, which meld with the natural and organic world.  Moulded silicone that looks like rubberised fossils, silk frayed into shaking tree branches, intricate laser cutting and metal worked into dresses like spines running all over the body.  Van Herpen continues to work with United Nude on the shoe front (the Dutch shoe brand has just debuted a sci-fi-fantasy shoe collaboration with Zaha Hadid so innovation seems to be abound).  The most brilliant stroke of an ensemble in the collection definitely belonged to the two-headed bird dress constructed out of cut pailette fronds.  Like I said, FANCY.  In fact, maybe fancy doesn't quite cut it.  Try out-of-this-world fantastical.  It was certainly a fleeting sight that should only exist in rarified form, something which Van Herpen excels at.    

Iris Van Herepen FW 13 Press-8735

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Iris Van Herepen FW 13 Press-8436

Iris Van Herepen FW 13 Press-8756

Iris Van Herepen FW 13 Press-8858

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Iris Van Herepen FW 13 Press-8410

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Iris Van Herepen FW 13 Press-8462

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Iris Van Herepen FW 13 Press-8812

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Iris Van Herepen FW 13 Press-8810

Backstage photography by Morgan O'Donovan

Comments (19)

  1. Rebekah York says:

    I am in love with these photos! Beautiful ladies wearing beautiful pieces.
    http://www.lunarstyle.wordpress.com/

  2. Denisa says:

    Some are soo nice and amazintg. HAve a great day.
    http://www.fashiondenis.com/

  3. M a r t a says:

    I really like all that pics. Are great and so original.
    ‚ô•‚ô•‚ô•‚ô•‚ô•‚ô•
    http://www.martasfashiondiary.com/

  4. Gem says:

    Wow great blog post. I’ve always like Iris Van Herpen but I admire her even more now. Her designs are really visually inspiring and desirable. These images really show case that fact. I always wondered what 3-D printing mend but after read this I feel like I understand a bit better.
    http://savagegem.wordpress.com/

  5. eva says:

    incredible dresses!

  6. WOWS says:

    Awesome designs and fabrics!
    Don’t miss today my look showing my New Strapless Silk Jumpsuit….with amazing accessories!.
    Kisses from
    http://www.withorwithoutshoes.com – My Bloglovin

  7. Thanks a lot for sharing. You have done a brilliant job. Your article is truly relevant to
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  8. Anthea says:

    Glad you are back! These dresses and photos are incredible!

  9. Constance says:

    tHIS IS SO GORGEOUS….I can’t even imagine the work behind it!

  10. Sasha says:

    amazing
    xx
    Sasha
    obsedeepalamode.blogspot.co.uk

  11. Jana H. says:

    Well, these peaces of art really look like a different experience. I feel like touching them, but then I think better not, because they seem kind of fragile, but the end product is strong.
    Like it.

  12. Putri Soe says:

    Just reading the “science” has made me holding my breath for a sec there… They put so much work into this–i couldn’t imagine what it feels like to be working with the designer in the studio. This is a masterpiece. Thanks for sharing!
    Cheers from Jakarta,
    SUPERNICE

  13. karina says:

    amazing collection
    —É –º–µ–Ω—è —Å–∫–æ—Ä–æ –≤—ã—Ö–æ–¥–∏—Ç –º–æ—è —Å–æ–±—Å—Ç–≤–µ–Ω–Ω–∞—è, —Å–º–æ—Ç—Ä–∏ –∑–¥–µ—Å—å
    http://chernikovakarina.blogspot.ru/

  14. Kaitlyn says:

    The pictures are gorgeous. Also how crazy are those shoes.
    kountrykouture.blogspot.com

  15. katy vess says:

    i think she and stephane rolland have always the best haute couture collections!
    http://katyswardrobe.tumblr.com/

  16. Deadly Bite says:

    Interesting collection. Reminds me a lot of McQueen…

  17. shoe drives says:

    your collection is very amazing & your dress is very beautiful i like this

  18. luc Rogovski says:

    That is amazing. After checking the shows at style.com I was very disapointed and already have said that Couture is dead.
    but Iris Van Harpen just made my day.
    pure Couture pure Beauty !
    thanks!
    all the best

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