Studio Drift takes biomimicry to the runway

Paris – Fashion models are often compared to graceful animals like sinewy gazelles, svelte felines and the like. But for Iris van Herpen’s Haute Couture presentation at Paris Couture Fashion Week, animal comparison was reserved for the runway design. The show was conducted within Le Trianon, a lavish concert hall built in the late 19th century. Instead of illuminating the heavily ornamented interior architecture, the runway was entirely blacked out. Suspended from the ceiling was a skeletal structure made of 20 horizontal glass bars. The bars each with a centered brass connector, allowing the lighting structure to become kinetic - slowly waving to mimic the movement of a bird’s wings in flight.

The site-specific installation was designed by Amsterdam-based duo Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta of Studio Drift. The project is called In 20 Steps, and is a continuation of a project by the same name initially installed at the Venice Bienalle in 2015.

In 20 Steps is a crystallization of the current obsession with biomimicry within the development of technology and design. The floating structure pulls reference from photographer Eadweard Muybridge’s 1886 series, Horse in Motion where Muybridge captured each second of a horse’s gallop in 12 sequential images. Horse in Motion was a part of Muybridge’s expansive photographic research into animal locomotion, including a distillation of a bird in flight.

The installation frames van Herpen’s 2019 Couture collection which shares a passion for biomimicry. The delicate pieces demonstrate through textile, avian patterns and motion illustrated by both traditional weaving techniques and sophisticated digital processes. The presentation accentuated designs dedication to moving forward while honoring the natural and historical references that can enrich future innovations.

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