Iris Van Herpen Visualizes Sound Waves for Her Haute Couture Fall 2016 Collection

In 1680, Robert Hooke demonstrated the nodal patterns associated with sound vibrations by running a bow along the edge of a glass plate covered with flour. In the 1960s the study of wave phenomena, or Cymatics, took a step forward when the Swiss scientist Hans Jenny experimented on powders, pastes, and liquids to improve the visualization of sound waves. With her Fall/Winter haute couture collection, Iris van Herpen is bringing these experiments to the world of fashion with a collection that seeks to show sound waves as evolving geometric patterns. True to her cutting-edge approach to new materials, the designer created garments that included thousands of hand-blown glass bubbles or Swarovski water drop crystals covered in transparent silicon, pearl-coated rubber fabric stitched onto black tulle or laser-cut fabrics stretched over black wire helping shape these sound waves around the body like a shell.

Using threads five times thinner than a human hair, she threaded barely there Japanese organza to create unique Cymatic patterns, while tightly plissé organza was hand-stitched on transparent tulle.

The designer complemented her vision with a meditative sound installation by the Japanese musician Kazuya Nagaya on Zen bowls, with the artist performing live in the L’Oratoire du Louvre, which amplify the etheral sound. The models werepeppered throughout the space slowly moving their arm to the music as if to the sound waves.


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