It is the buzziest moment of Paris Fashion Week so far. On Friday evening, Bella Hadid closed French label Coperni's Spring-Summer 2023 show with a dress that was sprayed on in front of a live audience. The supermodel walked onto the runway wearing nothing but nude underwear before Manel Torres — the creator of the patented spray-on technology, Fabrican — and two scientists applied a misty liquid that transformed, almost instantly, into a wearable material.
For nearly 10 minutes, guests watched in awe as Torres and his team realized Coperni's design in real time. To finish the dress, the label's head of design, Charlotte Raymond, walked onstage and gently manipulated the neckline while it was still drying and cut a dramatic leg slit. The dress had no seams and no hem. And, from afar, the fabric looked like a smooth jersey that appeared to move with the ease of a T-shirt. But when Hadid completed a lap around the runway, one could see a gentle texturing reminiscent of water droplets
"You can wear this dress, keep it as a dress and put it on a hanger. But if you don't want it anymore, you can put back the dress into the liquid and you can immediately spray it again," Coperni's creative director and co-founder, Sébastien Meyer, told CNN at the brand's Paris atelier ahead of the show. The innovative material has been in development since the early 2000s. Short fibers are bound together with natural and synthetic polymers and then mixed with liquid solvents that immediately evaporate once the aerosol hits skin or other surfaces, according to a press release from the British company behind the technology. The fabric's texture can also be manipulated according to the type of fibers and binding agent used.
While the dress won't be for sale, Meyer said it was important to push the boundaries of technology and design, and to create a moment that may go down in fashion history. Those in the audience appeared to be impressed — including Kylie Jenner, Jeanne Damas and Alexa Chung, who all cheered loudly — while footage of the finale soon went viral. "We're not going to make money on this but it's more of a celebration of innovation and having strong moments in fashion because we're passionate about pushing fashion forward," said Coperni's CEO and co-founder, Arnaud Vaillant, ahead of the show. Coperni, founded in 2013, often cross-pollinates fashion with art, science, technology and craftsmanship. Earlier this year, the brand made headlines with a hand-blown glass handbag that Doja Cat carried to the Grammys. The bag is named Swipe after the "swipe to unlock" feature on iPhones. On the runway this season, the Parisian brand also debuted an 18-karat gold version of the bag that will be melted down after the show to be used in other projects. Those who want to buy one of the gold bags -- created by artisan Gabriele Veneri -- can have it made to order.
For some fashion-watchers, the brand's Friday finale evoked Alexander McQueen's famous Spring 1999 show where model Shalom Harlow, wearing a voluminous white dress, was spray-painted by two robots while rotating on a turntable. Both Meyer and Vaillant insisted, however, that it wasn't an homage to McQueen. Meyer, who called himself a "geek," said he discovered Fabrican while browsing the internet and started working with Torres about six months before the collection debuted. Though the groundbreaking technology was initially developed for the fashion industry, it has potential applications in other sectors like healthcare, where it has been used to produce face masks, protective garments, casts and bandages.
Elsewhere in Coperni's new Spring-Summer collection, holographic floral prints appeared on pieces of vinyl attached to fitted jackets. With bra cups reinterpreted as shoulder pads, the high-tech garments were paired with high-cut, high-waisted shorts and bodycon dresses — as worn by Kylie Jenner to the show. "We made this print by making a video of a flower blossoming," Meyer explained. "We then took some screenshots of the video, which was put through a (piece of) software to create the print. It's very technical and Coperni don't usually do florals because it's too feminine for us, but I like the contrast of the futuristic fabric with the romance of flowers. It's a modern romanticism." The collection also featured a nod to actress Fiona Johnson's red dress in "The Matrix," as well as a series of jackets with boxy shoulders referencing the silhouettes of characters in the online game Roblox. "Sébastien (Meyer)'s main inspiration is innovation, whether its technology or the digital sphere," Vaillant said of his Coperni co-founder. "So he always has this reference."