Dutch designer Iris van Herpen, originator of 3D-printed fashion and frequent dresser of Bjork and Lady Gaga, is back with a new anthropomorphic shoe created for the architectural footwear brand, United Nude.
Thorn, a sky-high platform booty, debuted on the feet of models walking in van Herpen’s July 2nd Fall/Winter 2012/13 runway show. The 7.4 inch (!!!) wedge is encased in slow-molded acrylic, punctured at the arch by a gnarled twist of hand-cut gemstone "teeth" in Labradorite, Tiger’s Eye, Leopard Jasper and Moss Agate. It’s a ferocious take on the popular Lita platform, and a continuation of van Herpen’s Spring/Summer Unite Nude collab, Fang—another bootie with a platform of carbon fiber fangs.
Van Herpen, who is only 27, has risen quickly in the fashion world. We’ve called her "the Alexander McQueen of fashion geeks" here on Co.Design, while others are already terming her a fashion legend. Why? Van Herpen is riding the newest wave of technological democratization, applying once-rarefied techniques to the world of haute couture, which normally values century-old craftsmanship. She substitutes 3D printing for paper pattern sheets, and carbon fiber for lace. What makes her work really interesting, though, is that it combines high-technology with a heavy dose of handicraft: she’ll rapid-prototype a material, for example, and then stitch it together by hand.
Thorn is her 6th collaboration with United Nude, the shoe company run by Rem D. Koolhaas (yes—they’re related). "Creating new shoes with Iris is a greater challenge each time," says Koolhaas. "We race against the clock and fly people all over the world to get the shoes to Paris. The excitement of seeing her show is something we live up to." Thorn certainly looks more walkable than Fang, but they’re still unwritten with an unspoken disclaimer—take a cab!