Sculpted in organic body-armour of glinting copper, acrylic or leather, a cast of graceful aliens stepped out in their finest attire at the Iris Van Herpen haute couture show in Paris on Monday.
The avant-garde young Dutch designer draws much of her inspiration from the natural world, using computer-assisted design to create intricate 3D patterns that are then painstaking assembled by hand.
Made from hundreds of fine metallic leaves, layered like a wasp's nest, lustrous black dresses wound around the body in bulbous forms, framing the face and neck, and swelling out along the shoulders and arms.
Some fell slender to the knee, others were slashed high on one side, while one dress split at the skirt into six thick tentacles that curled down around the thighs, bouncing and rippling slightly as the wearer walked.
Sculpting the model from head to toe, a full body suit was fashioned from hundreds of tiny copper plates, embroidered on wine red fabric.
And a show-stopping bustier-dress, fashioned from a nude shade of polymer, suggested a collage of frozen leaves, shooting out around the model's torso in perfect symmetry like a Rorschach drawing.
For her otherworldly creations, Van Herpen explained that she worked with an architect, Philip Beesley, who creates what he calls living sculptures, and with the experimental chemist Rachel Armstrong who works on "living technology".
"A lot of things that humans create are wonderful -- but I miss the life in them," the designer told AFP backstage. "I imagine it will be possible in future to create clothes that keep on changing over the years."
Two dozen houses, from the top couturiers to up-and-coming young designers, are sending out their one-off creations over three days of exclusive shows, with Chanel and Givenchy to come on Tuesday and Jean-Paul Gaultier on Wednesday.