A handful of University of Waterloo architecture students were thrilled to see their handiwork incorporated into 10 fanciful dresses featured on the runway at Paris Fashion Week at the end of September. The work was a collaborative effort involving the students, school of architecture professor Philip Beesley and avant-garde Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen, with whom Mr. Beesley has had a longstanding partnership.
The dresses unveiled at the fashion show, part of Ms. van Herpen’s new Magnetic Motion collection, featured meshwork that was intricate and highly engineered, yet seemed organic. One fashion critic for Vogue magazine acclaimed the new work as “the most powerful fashion mix of nature and technology that I have ever seen.”
Supported by advanced computational modeling and industrial design, the group combi-ned detailed polymer, acrylic, crystal and leather components into interlinking three-dimensional fabric structures. One dress, made up of interlinking pieces of thermoformed acrylic, attracted particular attention in Paris. Dubbed the “Halo Dress,” it had a transparent, sparkling layer that surrounded the body like a shimmering outer shell (see above).
Laura Di Fiore, a second-year architectural design student, worked as a design intern at Mr. Beesley’s Toronto firm, Philip Beesley Architect Inc. One of 10 students or recent graduates involved in the project, she was responsible for much of the hands-on modeling of different meshwork arrangements that were sent to Ms. van Herpen for her approval. “It was a very touching and almost humbling experience to see something you worked on so diligently … ending up in Paris,” she says.