High fashion has the tendency to be dramatic. Haute Couture takes this one step further – producing one of a kind pieces that can run up into the hundreds of thousands of pounds, and can take thousands of hours to complete. In many ways, these showstopping pieces are similar to costumes – only worn by the super-rich, or the super-famous at standalone events before being committed to the archives or a dedicated museum.
With specialised processes producing specialised pieces, high and haute fashion rarely resemble something you’d see someone pop to the shops in – these are clothes that are almost exclusively reserved for the big screen, or celebrated events. So it makes sense that some brands and designers share visual references with films. Last year, we dissected Dune – the smash hit sci-fi remake starring Gen Z poster kids Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya.
Dune’s costumes were produced by the extraordinary duo Jacqueline West and Bob Morgan, who have an impressive portfolio of film costume design under their belts. And, although it’s a sci-fi, the pair were not only inspired by the future: West and Morgan looked to a hybridisation of past and future to craft a totally different aesthetic – self-described as “mod-eval,” a blend of modern and mediaeval.
Whilst the costumes were custom, we couldn’t help but spot similarities in the worlds of fashion – namely from the dramatic silhouettes of Balenciaga and Rick Owens, which got us thinking about the other brands who’s designs would fit seamlessly into a sci-fi movie. One of which is Iris Van Herpen – who’s intergalactic designs are as recognisable as they are impressive.
After graduating from fashion design, Iris Van Herpen landed an internship at Alexander McQueen, before showcasing her first collection at Paris Haute Couture fashion week in 2007. Her designs draw inspiration from the natural elements of water, earth and air, which have contributed to the brand’s interdisciplinary approach to sustainability.
Over the years, Iris Van Herpen has collaborated with different artists, scientists and architects as well as dancer/choreographer Nanine Linning and visual artist Bart Hess just to name a few, and has become a firm favourite of celebrities looking for something special. There’s always at least one IVP look at the Met, with this year’s coming from Winnie Harlow, who wore one of the brand’s moving-piece couture dresses.
Another brand which enjoys a symbiotic relationship with sci-fi is Rick Owens. In Dune, we drew comparisons with Owens for his propensity for tulle – creating sheer top, veil and dress constructions that fit right into its cinematic universe. However, his high-drama silhouettes also make his brand the perfect fit for futuristic sci-fi movies past and present. In particular, the metallic coating, seen in the brand’s most recent show, saw denims and skins lacquered in an iridescent finish – which couldn’t get more sci-fi if it tried.
Operating on peripherals of extremity, both Rick Owens’ signature exaggerated shoulders and tight-fitting leather pieces recall the notions of the future that costume designers in sci-fi films aim to capture when designing – as do the technical and futuristic processes of Iris Van Herpen’s couture. Whether it’s functionality or financial concerns that dictate what costume designers and stylists of the film industry end up pulling, there’s at least wealth of visual references and inspiration to tap into on the runways each season, courtesy of Rick Owens and Iris Van Herpen.
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