Fashion

10.01.13

Iris Van Herpen Spring/Summer 2014: Sonic Youth

Dutch designer Iris van Herpen showed a futuristic collection in Paris on Thursday that featured acoustic clothes that were sensitive to the touch.
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Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty

Dutch designer Iris van Herpen presented a subversive “dance” performance inside a darkened night club for her Spring/Summer 2014 show in Paris on Tuesday afternoon.

The palette was black, silver, gray, and a blue shadow -- perfect for a night club, but not exactly summery.

Models sporting shaved hair cuts and tattooed arms, traced a distant kiss over one each other’s faces, and danced a swaying dance around one another, circling each other’s breasts with their hands or touching the shoulders, like some sort of seductive lesbian flirtation.

But there was more to it than an alternative-looking eroticism -- the real story was actually the technology. Van Herpen said Tuesday that she had developed a series of clothes that generate sounds when touched. There were sensors placed within the garments created by Luc van Weelden. “For me it was always a dream that one day you could buy a jacket and it would create a sound,” she told The Daily Beast after the show. “All of the sounds you heard were created by touching the clothes.”

The performance was lead by the New York based artist, Casey Legler, who touched the clothes to create sound. “I use my body to create narrative,” Legler told The Daily Beast. The clothes generated electronic sounds that played in the night club, whilst the audience watched from sunken sofas. Other models performed free style movements around the room.

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A model wears a creation for Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen's ready-to-wear Spring/Summer 2014 fashion collection, presented in Paris on Oct.1, 2013. (Zacharie Scheurer/AP)

Some of the inspiration was tribal, even if it the execution was futuristic: “For me it was like with the African tribes when they create patterns in their skin but here we did it on the jackets,” Van Herpen said. (Last month, Van Herpen created futurstic designs for a collaboration with the New York City Ballet.)

Van Herpen used 3-D pressed silicone to create embossed patterns on silver-gray leather jackets worn with silver mini-skirts, exposing the midriff. Some of the jackets were worn with floor-length plisse pleated skirts, with the juxtaposition of the leather and the plisse representing what she called a “duality” in soft feminine silhouettes and flick-knife biker jackets. Other techniques included laser-cut laces, braiding, and high-gloss liquid fabrics made from silk and nylon.

As for the look of the show -- “We did not do a normal model casting," Van Herpen said. "For me these women are all beautiful but also boyish, and they all do different things, some modeling, some something else. Casey was very influential in the look."