The Voltage collection epitomizes the elusive nature of energy. Electricity plays a central role in the collection, as does van Herpen’s visualization of this energy and the body it inhabits. The work of New Zealand artist and experimentalist Carlos van Camp played an important part in the conception and evolution of the collection.
Using Tesla coils – high-voltage generators – three million volts was running through a dancers body during the show, performing a choreography of electrical discharges that are visible as impressive strokes of lightning. The dance performance was a respond to the unpredictability, the danger, and the beauty of this force of nature, echoing the notion of controlling high voltage electricity and its interaction with the human body.
Described as an alchemist approach to fashion, Van Herpen’s designs perpetually embrace new collaborations. For Voltage she collaborated with artist and professor Philip Beesley, developing three-dimensional fabrics for several of the monochromatic silhouettes, whose sensitive antennae vibrate to the energy of the body.
Van Herpen also collaborated with Neri Oxman, architect and professor at the MIT Media Lab, who specializes in digital fabrication and material science, creating a sculptural 3-D printed dress of various flexible materials that were fused while printing. Now known for being todays leading fashion designer in the use of 3d printing, Van Herpen created another fully flexible 3-D printed dress that was created with computational architect Julia Koerner, which flows across the body like a woven web.