Pratishtha Rana
Watching the 9-minute-long video of Iris van Herpen’s Spring 2021 collection for Paris Haute Couture Week, was a mesmerizing experience. Her new showcase, Roots of Rebirth, is an exploration of the wondrous world of fungi, created with the symbiosis of high technology and fashion.
The Dutch designer, 36, is known for her forward-thinking ways of creating avant-garde, sustainable and dreamy, shape-shifting silhouettes. For this new collection, she collaborated with Parley for the Oceans and used upcycled fabric made from marine debris.
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Scientist Merlin Sheldrake’s book Entangled Life has largely inspired the aesthetics of van Herpen’s Roots of Rebirth. The book notes that fungi are the ecological connective tissues, the living seam by which much of the world is stitched together.

The virtual fashion show, which was live-streamed on YouTube and other social platforms, saw models walking on an audience-less runway. The ramp looked like a floor filled with sand with tiny spore-like particles floating in the air. Spores are a network of countless fine threads, found under a mushroom’s cap.
Each design of van Herpen’s new collection details the beauty of these unexplored fragments of a fungus.

A number of these outfits are created from the henosis technique; multiple translucent layers of duchess fabric are dyed in striking, pastel hues. Surrounding the dresses are laser-cut venation patterns, formed by a group of winged fins that sprout outwards. And, when the models take a foot forward, every stride looks like magic in motion.

Other couture gowns depict a formation of hand-embroidered roots that gently hugs the body. Mahogany Silk has been hand-pleated and draped to create a sense of blooms.
Then, there is an intricately pleated glass-organza that branches out from the bodice to showcase a pattern of fractal networks.

To mirror the form of fungi gills, a medley of laser-cut liquescent gill-like fabric was 3D embroidered onto the lace.

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