Understanding the Science Behind Bella Hadid’s Spray Painted Coperni Dress

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The minds behind the cutting-edge Parisian fashion brand Coperni are Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant. The design team, pushed the limits of fashion technology even farther for the brand’s spring/summer 2023 collection.

The show was dedicated to “women of this world” and in the show notes designers Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillan wrote, “To you, women who transcend your body and never lower your gaze before the barbed wire of morality.”

The exhibition, which was held in the Salle des Textiles at the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris, featured a plethora of memorable sartorial moments. Designers were serious about experimenting with historical proportions, as evidenced by enlarged hips created by padding on fitted wool pants, profuse fabric hanging on miniskirts, and leather coats that could be artfully knotted around the waist to simulate a bustle from the 19th century. There were separates as well, nodding to the present with their squared and bulbous shoulders.

When a show was referred to as “experimental” back in the 1990s, it resembled Alexander McQueen whirling a flailing Shalom Harlow on a wooden turntable as two robot spray painters painted her multi-layered, white-as-paper garment with neon-yellow and black paint as she was belted to the floor. Anyone who was there remembers the audience members gaping in astonishment when Harlow came off the catwalk with black paint flowing from her collarbones during the Spring 1999 show.

Fast forward to 2022, Bella Hadid wore an outfit that was spray-painted onto her body with Fabrican, a substance from a can that hardens into wearable fabric, to close the Coperni Spring 2023 fashion presentation.

Bella Hadid entering the Coperni Spring 2023 runway in nothing but underwear.

She walked down the runway in white panties, one arm covering her chest, and exited in a tight off-the-shoulder asymmetrical white dress with a leg split. Although the audience members’ mouths were undoubtedly open, it was difficult to see anyone’s face behind their phone in classic 2022 fashion, and the event was more of a spectacle than a statement on anything.

Bella’s torso was covered in a thin layer of fabric in just over nine minutes. Charlotte Raymond, the head of design at Coperni, arrived to remove the excess fabric and mold the garment into its final shape after giving the fabric some time to settle. Charlotte created something extraordinary by lowering the shoulder straps, shortening the bottom to mid-calf, and including a slit on Bella’s left leg.

Due to Bella‘s busy schedule during Paris Fashion Week, the sequence was not previously rehearsed with her, which added to the charm and demonstrated the expertise of the dress’s engineers, designers, and Bella herself. A model filled in for Bella the night before the performance, but when the icy material touched Bella’s skin on the runway, she shivered uncontrollably.

Bella admitted backstage that she was “very anxious” because it was her first time being sprayed. She concealed it, though. She was both steely and graceful, occasionally lifting her arms in an elegant gesture above her head or flashing a small smile at the people who were tending to her. I kind of just became the character, whoever she is.

”Wasn’t it cold up there? “Honey, cold is an understatement,” Bella said, as reported by the NYTimes. “I really blacked out.” Yet as soon as she left the runway, she felt like the performance had been a “pinnacle moment” in her career.“I think that was the best moment of my life,” she told crew, friends, and fellow models.

In collaboration with Doctor Manel Torres, the founder and managing director of Fabrican Ltd, they used a spray-on fabric that, after being applied, dries to produce a wearable, non-woven cloth. It may be manufactured from a variety of fibers, including wool, cotton, nylon, cellulose, and carbon nanofibers, as well as natural and synthetic fibers.

Doctor Torres has been developing this sophisticated piece of equipment since 2003 from his base at the London Bioscience Innovation Center. By using a spray gun or aerosol to apply a liquid suspension—a finely dispersed substance in a liquid that is not dissolved—on a surface, a fabric is made. An immediate non-woven fabric is made possible by the cross-linking of strands that cling to one another.

The finale dress being sprayed onto Bella Hadid at the Coperni 2023 Spring show.

“We wanted to dedicate this moment to Dr Torres, because we respect what he does so much,” explains Vaillant. “We felt that it was absolutely necessary that he led the performance – to us, that makes the experience even more magical.”

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