The event mentioned didn't include fashion, so let's now move onto this discipline and see how such dichotomy was tackled by Ducth designer Iris van Herpen, who tried to balance a dreamy state with a conscious stage in her A/W 2016-17 collection, entitled "Lucid".
Choreographed by Spanish film director and dancer Blanca Li, the models in Van Herpen's presentation tried to cross the fine line between reality and unreality by passing and stopping in front of seventeen optical light screens (OLF) that duplicated and distorted their image in a mesmerisingly alienating way (the screens also acted as windows for the viewers).
The screens were a way for van Herpen to comment about reality and her creative process that prompts her to design while she's suspended in a lucid yet dreamy state.
The designs were trademark van Herpen, even though they looked more wearable than usual: the two 3D printed Magma dresses were constructed using flexible thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) printing (3D printing in this collection was developed in collaboration with 3D artist Niccolò Casas).
These exoskeleton-like sculptural configurations at times created bulbous structures similar to the glassy skeletons of radiolaria.
The dresses were painstakingly hand-assembled like in a puzzle and comprised up to 5,000 3D printed elements.
The collection developed to include densely corrugated and finely pleated garments à la Issey Miyake that softly moved on the body of the models or rigidly opened like fans around the hips and the neck area, enveloping the models like venomous plants and flowers.
The iridescent stripes that were used as decorative elements on tulle dresses and that followed and altered the shapes of the model's bodies called to mind the prism rainbows of the models' reflections in the optical screens and pointed towards architectures such as suspension bridges.
Architecture was part of the collection as, once again, the designer worked with Canadian architect Philip Beesley to create her bubbling dresses built with laser-cut hexagonal discs that reimagined Paco Rabanne's construction techniques.
The designs were matched with "Aero" shoes designed in collaboration with Finsk, consisting in laser-cut leather sandals that appeared elevated over sky-high wooden soles thanks to an ultra-thin transparent acrylic heel that separated the sole and the upper, creating a hovering look.
More wearable than usual, van Herpen's designs combined handcraft, architecture and new technologies in equal parts.
Swedish artist Hilma af Klint believed that a higher consciousness was speaking through her and guiding her hand while she painted.
With this collection van Herpen created a high-tech wearable narrative about her own creative process: according to her, she sketches and designs in a state suspended between reality and dreaming.
As stated above, the title of the collection was indeed a reference to the lucid dream phase in which a dreamer is conscious and is therefore able to exert a degree of control on what is happening.
The division between the reality and the optical illusions in the presentation was therefore a way to offer her audience the possibility to live this creative condition.
Van Herpen is actually caught in another dichotomy at the moment: while she seems to have developed more wearable designs (thanks to innovative steps forward in the field of flexible 3D printing materials), she is also one of the very few contemporary young designers to be featured in several museum exhibitions.
Will she rebalance her collections towards the commercial in future? Time will tell, but at the moment her dichotomic approach focused on research and collaborations with other mavericks from different disciplines is rather successful: while being among the most innovative designs to showcase in Paris, van Herpen is currently featured in the "#techstyle" event at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and will also be included in "Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute (5th May - 14th August 2016).
Member of the Boxxet Network of Blogs, Videos and Photos