Iris Van Herpen's electrifying haute couture show should have come with a warning sign: Danger High Voltage.
A mysterious black statue in a dimly lit Parisian salon awaited revelers Monday who suddenly gasped as this "statue" began to move; the figure was in fact a performer inside a black body stocking, standing on a Tesla coil. Then followed one of the most unforgettable —and frightening — displays seen in recent couture memory: the electricity was turned on and this figure lit up like lightening.
As if straight out of a scene from the movie "X-Men," long electrical sparks shot out in all directions for several minutes. It was a great, if extreme, introduction to the "voltage" theme of the avant-garde Dutch designer's fourth couture show for fall-winter 2013.
Van Herpen continued her signature exploration of organic life in 11 dynamic looks — this season, through the natural electricity that, so say the program notes, "enervate the human body." This was, as ever, twinned with a dash of poetic license, all to produce one of her strongest shows to date. White trapezoid silhouettes with all-over spiky appliques perfectly evoked the high-energy fuzz of a voltage current. In black, several dresses sported fine, bendy strips which pointed upward, like human hair that's exposed to static electricity.
The theme of sea creatures is recurrent in Van Herpen's artistic vocabulary — here, seen explored in one column dress that was reminiscent of the energy-rich phosphorescence of deep-sea Medusas. This show — featuring some of the most imaginative clothes the Dutch wunderkind has produced — will set her in good stead for her debut ready-to-wear show in March. But it was the electric human that stole the show.