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Artist Lawrence Malstaf created a sensation to dramatize Van Herpen’s ready-to-wear collection this year at Paris Fashion Week. Standing suspended from the ceiling in see-through envelopes were three models in various states of lethargy or free-style choreographic movement. It was a pleasant surprise to get more than just a glimpse at the fleeting models and their wondrous winter wear and the atmosphere was tantalizing from start to finish.
The show was kick-started when the air in the plastic pouches was suddenly withdrawn and the models were literally vacuum-packed as they struggled upwards. Although there was an oxygen tube reaching into the plastic, it was an anxiety-inducing experience, increased tenfold when disquieting Lynchian Inland Empire-kind of music turned up full volume and droned so loudly that your chest vibrated like a flatlining megaphone.
The models stalked in on futuristic plastic platform boots that reached up to just below the knee. Colors and fabrics in this collection added a reptilian touch to the distant future Matrix setting. A saurian-colored dress with boxy cap sleeves looked like it was streaked and stitched with the eyelashes of alien creatures. After the pencil dresses and the figure-hugging extraterrestrial fabrics, attendees were treated to looser watered plastics that sometimes had that back-to-front appearance of a Jedi cloak. The shimmer in certain dresses reminded one of a computer-generated swimming pool.
The lineup came to a breath-taking close with two memorable couture pieces. The first, a stylishly boxy garment that looked like the only thing keeping it up was the model’s hands placed akimbo on the dress. The other brought back home that feeling that this collection had been stitched out of alien body matter. It looked like an assemblage of albino squids clinging to their alien mother.