Collaboration between an architecture professor from the University of Waterloo and an avant-garde fashion designer blurs the boundaries of clothing and architecture, and could influence how cities of the future might look.

Model wearing Iris van Herpen dress

One of Iris van Herpen's designs from her Wilderness Embodied collection.

Professor Philip Beesley of the School of Architecture at Waterloo is working with Iris van Herpen, a fashion designer based in Amsterdam who has created work worn by Lady Gaga. Two exhibits are on display in France through the summer.

The unconventional collaboration sees the introduction of architectural elements to Van Herpen's clothes. As Professor Beesley put it, the two share a design language.


Living, breathing buildings

"I think architecture can be reconceived as something that lives and breathes. And clothing can be reconceived as having multiple boundaries that expand beyond your physiology, as a building does," said Beesley.
The two exchange technical craft and imagination to create the kind of experimentation that may one day lead to buildings that can breathe through layers of mesh and durable woven fabrics.

van Herpen dress using architectural elements"We were building some new hybrid fabrics and experimenting with how they might work," said Beesley. "I brought her some laser-cut, silicon 3D acrylic lace work with forests of needles and small vessels covering them. In our exchange, we explored how to construct and use new techniques to develop lightweight mesh, using modeling and digital fabrication."

A creation from van Herpen's Voltage Haute collection inspired by Beesley's Hylozoic series. 

Exhibits in France

A series of Professor Beesley’s suspended architectural environments influenced by Van Herpen’s own explorations is continuing this exchange with Radiant Soil currently on view in the Fondation EDF Alive/En Vie exhibition, Paris, and Epiphyte Veil, currently touring throughout France.

A detail from Radiant Soil art installation

Industrial design meets organic influences in Beesley's Radiant Soil.

Van Herpen's Fall/Winter 2013-14 collection entitled Wilderness Embodied included some of Beesley's cutting-edge contributions, as did her Voltage Haute Couture collection in January.

The pair is now working on the next generation of designs, creating new fabrics, including one that has radical, trembling extensions that resemble artificial porcupine quills.

To see more photos and projects, visit Phillip Beesley's website.