The designer Iris van Herpen recently became fascinated by what scientists call the “wood wide web,” the communication network used by fungi to send messages between plants, think of it as nature's answer to the Internet. After stumbling across Entangled Life, a book by the plant scientist Merlin Sheldrake, she decided to turn this vast underground array of information-delivering filaments, which she describes as “a huge communication system, like the brain of the earth", into fodder for her latest couture collection, titled Roots of Rebirth.
The designer has harnessed everything from iron filings to “dragon skin,” a type of silicone used by the military as body armor, to create her stunning, otherworldly designs. She maintains a scientific detachment from the Sturm und Drang of the fashion world, collaborating with biologists and programmers rather than influencers, and refers to her couture atelier as a “laboratory” for experimentation.