For this collection, the designer finds inspiration in the hypnotic manifolds within our ecologies through the work of American artist Anthony Howe. The three-dimensional cyclical harmony of Howe’s kinetic sculptures is the wind beneath the wings of this collection. Howe’s spherical ‘Omniverse’ sculpture explores our relationship with nature and intertwines with infinite expansion and contraction, expressing a universal life cycle. The meditative movement of the ‘Omniverse’ serves as a portal for the collection and the models, encircling a state of hypnosis.
The collaboration with Howe evolves ‘in an ecstasy of attentiveness’ through the symbiosis of all the elements of nature that are dependent on each other. As one of the key pieces of the collection, the finale ‘Infinity’ dress comes alive on the breath of a finely balanced mechanism. An engineered skeleton of aluminium, stainless steel and bearings is embroidered with a delicate layering of feathers in cyclical flight; revolving around their own centre. ‘Hypnosis’ reflects the beauty and complexity of our environment, exploring the patterns and structures within its fragile landscape.
‘The ‘Hypnosis’ collection is a hypnotic visualisation of nature’s tapestry, the symbiotic cycles of our biosphere that interweave the air, land, and oceans. It also reflects the ongoing dissection of the rhythms of life and resonates with the fragility within these interwoven worlds.’ – Iris van Herpen.
The ‘Hypnosis’ collection consists of 19 silhouettes that flow deceptively in transparencies. Multilayered around the body, they revive the ancient silk moiré weaving technique that links to the illusory nature of human perception. The ‘Epicycle’ looks are constructed by multi-layering luminous organza spheres, which challenge the relationship between surface and substance through illusory patterns that wrap into each other infinitely. The ‘Suminagashi’ garments which reflect the venerable art of Japanese floating ink on water, are lasercut into liquid lines of dyed silk, heat bonded onto transparent tulle to seemingly and seamlessly flow over the skin.
The ‘Dichotomy’ looks are laser- printed, heat-bonded and lasercut into contra-positive waves. Each dissected curve is then pressed onto hundreds of ripple-like panels that ebb and flow in an exquisite swell of meticulously hand stitched silk organza. The ‘Hypnosis’ technique, developed in collaboration with Professor Phillip Beesley involves ten of thousands of plottercut mini ripples that continuously dissect the dress through each movement of the body, revealing skin in between the whimsical spheroid patterns.
The printed duchesse-satin is plottercut into thousands of 0.8 mm exquisite waves that each are interlinked, designed to move faster than the eye can follow.
Ulyana Sergeenko has carved her own special niche within the world of Couture. A passionate storyteller, she conceives each collection as a fully formed tale. Story after story, season after season, her heroine changes and evolves, keeping intact an unmistakable wit and joyous femininity, drawing a glamorous map of references and inspirations.
For Fall-Winter 2019/2020, opening once again the magic box of fantasy, Ulyana Sergeenko brings her heroine on an enriching, exotic journey around the world. One decided overnight, grabbing a few belongings and hitting the road. Along the way, the heroine swaps her things for local artifacts. Gradually, her wardrobe bursts with colorful pieces from different cultures, which she mixes freely. We meet her in the souk of Samarkand, Uzbekistan, right in the middle of her journey, free and happy.
She is wrapped in a multicolored fur coat, and wears trousers; her local Ikat robe is embroidered with crystals and colored stones. On warm days, she layers weightless dresses made of mesh and transparent organza and swarming with singular patters. Her capes are embroidered with the motifs of local carpets.
As usual, she favors a shapely silhouette with a nipped waist, and is all for a soulful touch of craft: floral ornament applied by hand and then embroidered; bomber jackets and skirts made to resemble the Uzbekistan kourpeshkas (national pillows), with hanging beaded tassels; intricate crochet and beading. Images of herbs and flowers are blurred, following the Ikat technique.
Precious and tactile materials such as silk, atlas, sateen, chiffon, jacquard silk, lurex, crochet, taffeta, patent leather come in a palette of black, gold, green, purple and blue, interspersed with shades of pink – from powdery and pastel to electric to deep.
Accessories homage the Uzbekistan culture. Bags are inspired by the local torba, the sack tied with a gold cord, and are made in leather, taffeta or velvet. There are small knitted bags, and bags with long straps made of gold coins. Jewels, gathered along the journey, cover the outfits. Pointy mules with lavish bows and small heels and classic high court shoes in bright colors, devised with Charlotte Olympia, complete the image.
Samarkand, wrapped in romantic secrets, bombarded with the smells and colors of the souks, is the perfect place for the Ulyana Sergeenko woman. Like in an Eastern fairy tale, as she travels she meets happiness and love, enjoying the moment.
At the end of last November, I was asked for a proposal reimagining the house of Schiaparelli.
At the time, I had just left a job at the house where I’d spent my entire ten-year-long career. It was in that job that I discovered who I was as a designer, but also who I was as a person, as an adult, as a New Yorker, as a friend.
As I began thinking about what my vision of Schiaparelli might be, I was also thinking about who I myself might be, because I didn’t know anymore. For the past decade, I had been one person, one kind of artist. Now I had the chance to become someone else, something else. Every morning, I walked from my apartment in downtown Manhattan to the eastern edge of Chinatown. My walk took me from one world into another, and as I walked, I could watch the moneyed, polished New York of the twenty-first century slip away, to be replaced by one much older, as boutiques gave way to fruit stalls and cafes to little storefronts selling hardware and tea and dumplings. It was as if I was heading into my future by venturing into the past.
At the time, I was renting a skinny, shoebox-shaped studio cut out of my friend’s larger third-floor atelier, where she made hats. For the month of December, I sat at my drafting table, wearing gloves and a hood (the heater didn’t work, or not well enough), listening to the rumble of the M train rattling over the Manhattan Bridge past my one window, and sketching. I thought often about the nature of creativity, and about how an artist forms his aesthetic only when he’s able to retreat to the purest, most childlike part of himself, the place in which nothing can be wrong and nothing can be bad, because everything exists in the realm of possibility. That’s what becoming an artist demands. Staying an artist means trying to hold on to that exuberance, that naivete, that sense of wonder. Cynicism, world-weariness, snobbery: Those are the artist’s enemies. Creativity only moves forward if you can let go of everything you thought you knew.
This collection is the story of that December, and what I dreamt up in that little studio. It’s also about what I learned there: That a life of perpetual transformation isn’t the safest or easiest one, but it is the most exhilarating.
July 1, 2019