Iris van Herpen shows her latest collection ‘Earthrise’ during Paris Haute Couture Week on July, 5th 2021. With our planet positioned at the forefront of the global agenda more than ever before, ‘Earthrise’ explores the splendour of this blue body we call home by circling towards the amalgamated awareness to maintain the grandeur of the turning sphere we traverse along. In parallel to Van Herpen’s drive towards an interconnected approach to fashion, the 19 look collection narrates the circular processes that usher change in our sentient world by weaving a symbiotic thread between artisanal tailoring and organic craftsmanship, derived from the perception of our world as one living and breathing organism.

With the turn of the last century came the launch of Apollo 8, the first-ever crewed spacecraft to leave Earth’s orbit and witness the Earthrise from the Moon’s horizon. Astronauts looked over our revolving sphere from afar, to see a boundless, indescribable space; a living, breathing organism, unmarred by conflict, borders as well as hierarchies and all of the entrenched partisans that make up the minutiae of our quotidian lives. Against the darkness of the inky black vastness of space, they experienced an emotional shift: a cosmic perspective of oneness.

Contemplated as a metamorphic realisation, the expedition went beyond scientific headway, remaining a pivotal moment in our evolution as sensitive sapiens. ‘Earthrise’ symbolises this shift of an anthropocentric perspective — our discernment of time has never felt so spectral. Tasked to feel, rather than to count, this novel ethos was framed as ‘Earth-gazing,' to observe the intricacies of this cosmic view and the magnificence of our surrounding mythosphere. To challenge the immensity of space that surrounds our tellurian haven, Iris van Herpen, enraptured by the seductive ancient human dream to fly out into the stratosphere of the unfamiliar, collaborates with the female world- champion skydiver Domitille Kiger. Capering through the expansive skies, from the age of 15, the designer grew fascinated by the choreographed performance of her craft, fusing two diametrical opposed worlds of artistry and science.

Through Kiger’s graceful sky-dancing, she embodies a new meaning of earthly freedom, thwarting any fear with the spirit of transcendence. Through the extreme speed and Kiger's choreography, while sky-dancing, the custom Haute Couture gown reveals the turbulence of the intricate handwork. Made from thousands of blue spheres in colour gradients, embodying our 'blue marble’ home, the gown spins off in dazzling twists in an array of directions simultaneously.

The finale is paradoxically a meditative moment, depicting a single person floating in space, merging the elements of dance, exploration and the innovative mind through this sky-dance. The ultimate intricacy, softness and delicacy of Haute Couture are merged for the first time with the extreme sport of skydiving which requires ultimate resilience and toughness. ‘For ‘Earthrise’ it has been my dare to push delicate three-dimensional craftsmanship into the extreme spheres of 300 km an hour resilience-finding the ultimate corners of durability in the craftsmanship of Haute Couture.’

Fostering adventurous athleticism and fearlessness in this collection, Iris van Herpen stitches together these polar disciplines. Haute Couture and skydiving alike relinquish the thrill of leaving aside everything that holds one to the ground. The intimate creative process and the meticulous precise shaping and draping of fabric are imperative to both; for Kiger, the lifeline for each skydive, for Iris van Herpen the shaping of a garment into an empowering experience.

Typifying the feeling of unity, this season the maison collaborates with the Icelandic artist James Merry, the kinetic artist Casey Curran and French-British artist Rogan Brown. Spanning three looks in the collection, the atelier seamlessly weaves in Brown’s distinctive aesthetic which is inspired by the tradition of scientific illustration and results in incredibly detailed, delicate relief sculptures made from the accretion of multiple layers. Akin to the designer’s vision, process and materiality are paramount as large hand and laser-cut pieces are dissected from sheet after sheet of paper in careful scientific fashion with scalpel knife or laser, sometimes taking months to complete, the slow act of cutting repeating the long time-based processes that dominate nature: growth, decay and re-growth. The meticulous detailing goes beyond the eye's perception, where fabric is torn and expanded in multiple directions simultaneously through powerful force. The fabric’s evolution from plant, to weave, to plant again is mirrored in the various stages in these looks.

Evgueni Galperine’s composition evokes a transcending unison of space and time in which the skydiver travels. Igniting Tsunaina’s intimate then explosive vocals, Evgueni’s collaboration with the artist creates an invisible bond between the score and the visuals. An experimental hybrid of electronic and orchestral instruments, as well as planetary NASA recordings rippling through the composition, are melted with Tsunaina’s vocals, forming a collective oneness between mankind and nature.

As a continuation of van Herpen’s dedication to sustainability, ‘Earthrise’ marks a further chapter with Parley for the Oceans. Raising awareness of the fragility of our blue marble, multiple looks, in addition to the ones created in collaboration with Brown and the Skydive gown for Kiger, are crafted from Parley Ocean Plastic® made from upcycled marine debris by Parley's Global Cleanup Network.

Levitating against the clouds that encircle the dramatic natural cathedrals of nature’s Kingdom — the Dolomite Mountains — Film Director Masha Vasyukova challenges the inherent discernment of space and time by sequencing the linearity of time into a circular orbit. A portent portrayal of earthly virtue that ascents into a celestial scenery beyond the skies, the interconnected craftsmanship and layered anatomy of the looks pay homage to the anima mundi, the world as one living body. The magnificent environment around us nurturing an intrinsic connection between all living things on the planet, similar to the way the soul is connected to our bodies.