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Iris Van Herpen once again has shown her innovation in design. Her latest collection has one-of-a-kind gowns achieved using 3D printing technology. Her one-off pieces are couture, exclusive and unique. They are fit to a specific customer and made of the finest materials by hand. She has also made them sustainable.

For spring, the Dutch couturier collaborated with Parley for the Oceans to include Ocean Plastic® fabric made from upcycled marine debris, which in her view is of couture quality. “Of course [couture] clients expect the highest quality out there, so you don’t want to go sustainable if you lower the quality,” she said on a Zoom call. “We are now at a moment where the quality [between an organic silk and a recycled polyester] is completely equal…. Now it’s really a matter of decision, it’s not a matter of choosing a quality. Basically, there’s not a lot of reason not to use sustainable materials anymore, other than changing your mindset.”

Entangled Life, a book by Merlin Sheldrake about how fungi sustain life on Earth, inspired Van Herpen’s collection on many levels. Her use of pleating can be related back to the gills of mushrooms. Mycelium, the lace-like branching part of fungus, influenced both silhouettes and embellishments. Van Herpen even worked with an artist who grew lace patterns from wood.

Mycelium, the designer explains, forms a “wood wide web,” or underground system of communication. It’s an idea that “especially touched me,” said Van Herpen, “because I think the last year has been, for me, and I guess all of us, [one] of isolation and separation. And of course it’s really beautiful to look at nature and how nature connects in a very similar way [to] how we communicate.” And while couture may be the most exclusive expression of fashion, it is also the most intimate. One of the reasons “I love couture so much,” the designer says, is, “because it’s a very personal approach towards fashion. I have direct relationships and contacts with the people I create for, and I think that is such a rare value these days, where everything is so separated.”

This collection reminds me of flowers from another planet. I would love to see Van Herpen do futuristic costume design. Couldn’t you see a queen from a planet in Star Wars wearing these gowns! 

Kudos to Van Herpen for originality and sustainability.