Paris Couture Week: Iris Van Herpen, Schiaparelli Go Wild

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From flamingo masks to feather-like frocks, designers looked to the animal kingdom for inspiration.

To say that Schiaparelli designer Bertrand Guyon stepped it up a notch with his latest collection would be, well, an understatement. Perhaps he was inspired by his surroundings — the gilded hall of Paris’ Opera Garnier. Sure, other brands show here (most recently Stella McCartney) but Guyon seemed to take all the opulence to heart, draping the windows in black for a morning show while bathing the room in pink light.

It was disco at dawn (well 10 a.m., but still early by fashion week standards) or perhaps a mad morning rave as models walked wearing masks with butterflies, flying tigers, big-eared bunnies and birds in between. It was a lot less literal than recent collections that relied heavily on archives, and Guyon used the Surrealist house’s heritage to perfect effect. Wilder, bolder and full of inspiration from the animal world, from the fanciful masks to plenty of leopard print, it felt like Guyon was finally having fun.

Models Adriana Lima, Jamie King and Winnie Harlow walked (mask free of course, because if you’re going to hire famous faces they need to be seen), and Mandy Moore sat front row in a sheath of shocking Schiaparelli pink.

The gowns are sure to get plenty of red carpet play, not only the bright bold ones, but the crisply cut black velvet ones as well. A belted blue brocade coat was another item that will make plenty of 'must' lists. Moore, accompanied by her stylist Cristina Ehrlich, said she was shopping for an Emmys dress and open to taking a red carpet risk — there were plenty of options here. "I'm excited to find a venue for the purple-accented, one-sleeved gown," Moore said. 

Iris van Herpen also took inspiration from the animal kingdom, showing bird-like garments (“dresses” doesn’t seem quite right for these laser-cut sculptures) in near darkness under a canopy of undulating lights from artists Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta. As the fluorescents flew up and down, models walked in gowns, capes and suits.

She was inspired by the movement of wings, looking at exactly how our feathered friends fly with chronophotography and then mimicking that in how the fabric was cut and draped, then using heat to bond fabrics or weaving disparate fabrics through parametric files. If it sounds complicated that’s because it is — van Herpen is more mad scientist than any other designer around right now. 

The collection is about “the current scientific shift in which biology converges with technology,” the show notes suggested. To wit, for the last and most dramatic looks, van Herpen made corsets based on birds' soundwave patterns, giving the word 'tweet' a whole new meaning.

Solange Knowles wore van Herpen to the Met Gala and Cate Blanchett in Cannes. These looks are for the bold, beautiful — and brave.