by pascal iakovou
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Dutch designer Iris van Herpen presented her latest Haute Couture collection, titled ‘Shift Souls’, on January 21st, 2019 at Musée des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

The collection was inspired by early examples of celestial cartography and its representations of mythological and astrological chimera, Van Herpen was particularly taken with “Harmonica Macrocosmica,” a star atlas by the German-Dutch cartographer Andreas Cellarius, published in 1600.

With the advances in DNA engineering and the first successful creations of human//animal hybrids called ‘Cybrids’, the mythological dreams of Humankind since the dawn of civilization are shifting to the canvas of science. While the scientific and ethical implications of « Cybrids’ are still unclear, this collection expresses the fact that this reality is upon us.

‘For ‘Shift Souls’ 1 looked at the evolution of the human shape, its idealization through time and the hybridization of the female forms within mythology. Specially the imagination and the fluidity within identity change in Japanese mythology gave me the inspiration to explore the deeper meaning of identity and how immaterial and mutalble it can become within the current coalescence of ourdigital bodies” -— Iris van Herpen

Additional inspiration comes from the artist Kim Keever, the aquatic expressionist based in New York who merges the disciplines of painting and photography. À former NASA engineer, Keever experiments with the idea of ephemerality and movement in large scale photographs ofliquid clouds of colors. Van Herpen collaborated with Keever on translucent layered cloud dresses of

his signature work.

The collection consists of eighteen looks with concentration on dissected and voluminous layering, and a warm color palette of ochre, Nrian purple, and indigo pigments.

The Harmonia silhouettes are voluminous spheroid dresses that unfold vibrant patterns through translucent gradientdyed organza that is halfwheel plissé-ed by hand. The ‘Symbiotic’ volumes are made from gradient dyed silks that are multi-layered into sculptural shapes by a fine 3D lasercut frame of PETG to create hybrid bird shapes in dimensional color gradations that hover in symbiosis with the body like mythological creatures. « Shift souls’ hide and reveal anamorphic faces that smoke around the body in three dimensional ‘wave drawings’, mult-layered and gradient-dyed silks are heatbonded within frames of lasercut mylar, creating surreal spectral anatomies. For the ‘Galactic glitch’ technique, cloud-printed silk is heat-bonded to mylar and lasercut into the finest lace of thousands of O.5mm ‘harmonica waves’, creating a dance of quivering echos that optically distort the body.

The “Cosmica’ looks are made from vaporous colored clouds by Kim Keever that are printed on translucent organza, to be layered into nebulous multi-dimensional prints, whose unfinished contours blur the body.

Cellchemy’ face-jewelry are 3D printed through high-resolution multi-material printer in collaboration with the Delit University of Technology. One-off pieces were developed through a generative design process based on a 3D face scan, by combining the color information with the 3D shape in grasshopper algorithm, a semi-arbitrary density structure was mapped from the face.

For the finale of the show, Iris van Herpen collaborated with contemporary artist Nick Verstand, subdividing the space using walls of materialized laser light, revealing a dreamscape of circulating clouds.

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