“When I design, the draping process most of the time happens to me unconsciously. I see lucid dreams as a microscope with which I can look into my unconsciousness. In this collection, I have tried to bring my state of ‘reality’ and my state of dreaming, together.” – Iris van Herpen
Historically, dress used to be a reflection of one’s social status in society. It wasn’t until the disappearance of the solid “classes” in the 20th century that dress became rather a means of individual expression of the inner self. Today, Iris van Herpen has gone even further than that. With her collection “lucid” she intents to create fashion as an expression of the unconscious as a means of ultimate “being true to one self”.
Since modernity, fashion has always had major issues with identity. On the one hand there are these claims that we could know the self from our surface appearance, with the outside as a matching representation of our inner being, while on the other hand there is a great awareness that appearance and attitude is constructed through ‘artificial’ means and can therefore not be trusted as authentic. I mean artificial in the sense that we have become alienated from our clothes regarding the chain of their production processes, but also that it is unclear why we choose to wear and be identified with what design. This is the result of many factors from our surrounding social context acting simultaneously upon us, since globalization is turning the world into a cultural ‘melting-pot’.
In a sense, with its mass-production techniques, fast-fashion has made the piece of clothing increasingly impersonal. Whilst many high end designers have therefore gone back to old school hand-crafting, Iris van Herpen instead embraces mechanized industrial production by being the first designer to work with 3D printing. Her futuristic designs are almost alien-like, very experimental, on the border between clothing and art, interrogating the question of the organic human body in an environment created by technology.
Her designs are brought to life by Nick Knight’s iconic filming style that is characterized by a strong accent on spectacular visuals and an experimental ambience. The model is distorted by her interaction with different materials such as mirrors and screens, fragmenting her body and movement, blurring the distinction between authentic self and copy, reality and dream, the tangible and the virtual, the camera eye and the digital screen.
Instead of narrating, the film aims at enhancing the clothing’s intriguing beauty by adding a layer of visual effects. The fact that it’s very much about the qualities of the surface may be illustrative of today’s fractured self/society. Lucid dreaming, the struggle to be conscious in our unconscious, could even be seen as analogous to the modern intellectual constantly striving to evade the communal brainwash of the system we live in.