Haute couture has never looked so fashion-forward. Here are three designers honouring the centuries-old custom of dress-making while trailblazing haute couture into the future.
TEXT: CoBo Editorial
IMAGES: Courtesy of various
Whether it is utilising 3D printing and revolutionary fabrics—such as upcycled marine debris—or embracing heritage and history through fashion, we present three trailblazing designers who challenge the conventions of haute couture, leading this centuries-old French practice of custom dress-making into the future of fashion.
Iris van Herpen, Founder, Iris van Herpen
Heralded for her futuristic, posthuman-esque designs, and fusion of haute couture traditions with cutting-edge technologies—such as 3D printing—Iris van Herpen is certainly one to watch, fast rising to the top of the haute couture world. Establishing her label in 2007, van Herpen’s first collection “Chemical Crows” comprised of using brass ribs from 700 umbrellas to create her garments, part of which are now in the collection of Groninger Museum in the Netherlands. In 2011, she was invited to become a guest member of Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. Formerly trained in classical ballet, and with a deep interest in architecture, van Herpen’s oeuvre is often described as ethereal and transcendent, driven by an interconnected approach to fashion. While her Spring/Summer 2021 haute couture collection “Roots of Rebirth”—inspired by roots and spores—explored the richness and fragility of the very nature of life, for her Fall/Winter 2021 haute couture collection, van Herpen turned to blending the delicateness of haute couture with the extreme sport of sky diving. In a short film for the campaign, “Earthrise”, van Herpen collaborated with French female world champion skydiver Domitille Kiger; the result is a spectacle of aerial feat and boundary-pushing high fashion.
“For ‘Earthrise’ it has been my dare to push delicate three-dimensional craftsmanship into the extreme spheres of 300km an hour resilience—finding the ultimate corners of durability in the craftsmanship of Haute Couture,” says van Herpen of the collection.
Kerby Jean-Raymond, Founder and Creative Director, Pyer Moss
Brooklyn-born designer Kerby Jean-Raymond took the haute couture world by storm this July with his history-making debut at Paris Haute Couture Week. The first African American designer invited to participate by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in its more than 150-year history, Jean-Raymond used the opportunity to go against fashion traditions with his extravagant tribute to the often overlooked history of Black innovation. From the cellphone and the Super Soaker—whose patents are still held by its Black inventors—to the fire hydrant, heated rollers, and a jar of peanut butter; each of the 25 designs in “WAT U IZ” spotlighted an invention credited to a Black person. In another unusual and bold move, Jean-Raymond debuted the collection in his home state, New York, rather than Paris. It was showcased at the historically significant Villa Lewaro in Irvington—the home of African-American self-made millionaire Madam C.J. Walker. “We are an invention inside of an invention. Inside of the creation of race, we made blackness,” says Jean-Raymond of his collection.
Hailed as a luxury streetwear label, Jean-Raymond founded Pyer Moss—named after his mother—in 2013. Known for his astute tailoring and designs centred on narratives about heritage and activism, Jean-Raymond also serves as the global creative director for Reebok.
Daniel Roseberry, Artistic Director, Schiaparelli
Daniel Roseberry has no easy job: in 2019 he was appointed as Artistic Director to helm all collections, projects and the image of Schiaparelli. But having just launched his fourth haute couture collection, “Matador Couture”, for Schiaparelli at Paris Haute Couture Week in July—to much high praise—it’s safe to say that Roseberry has successfully refreshed the near-century-old couture house, founded by Elsa Schiaparelli in 1927, establishing a firm foothold into the future for the label. The collection honours the vision of Schiaparelli, who wrote in her 1954 memoir: “In difficult times, fashion is always outrageous.” Think Rococo frames, cone bras, curvy silhouettes of Lacroix and Gaultier, the sensuous body and indulgence of bijoux and gold—the collection draws upon many references signature to the history of the house, including Schiaparelli’s well-known close relationships with surrealists and artists such as Salvador Dalí, Man Ray, and Marcel Duchamp, whose influences were seen in her designs.
“Here’s what I want: No more cookie-cutter fashion. No more pieces that look like they could have been made by anyone,” says Roseberry. “Give me more beauty, more earnestness, more romance, more effort. I hope this collection reminds everyone who encounters it of the sheer delight that fashion can bring us in hard times, and with it, the promise of more joy when the clouds part.”