Iris Van Herpen

Beyond the boundaries of fashion

Iris van Herpen the 34-year-old Dutch fashion designer who is widely recognized as one of fashion’s

most talented and forward-thinking designers who always push to break the boundaries of fashion design. Since her first show in 2007 van Herpen has been preoccupied with inventing new forms and methods of sartorial expression of fashion by combining the most traditional and the most radical materials constructing master pieces by her unique methods to take us into her unique aesthetic vision. She calls this design ethos “New Couture.”

~Van Herpen about describing her work

If I were to use one word to describe my work, it would be movement

as one of the most influential things in my life has been my classical ballet practice. Through dance, I learned about the seduction of movement, the transformation of the body, and the ‘evolution’ of shape. Those years taught me how to shift shape and were the birth of my interest in fashion.

I Don’t think of fashion as being clothes, or a discipline. I think of it being much more. I see fashion as a dialogue between our inside and our outside.

For me, fashion is a form of art that is closely related to me and my body. I see it as a very personal expression of identity combined with desire, mood, and culture.

Looking around me, I consider what I can’t see as much as what I can see, and that transformative focus creates freedom in my work. Each garment and every collection is an embodiment to new understanding and discovery, on the conceptual level, on the level of materiality, and on a level of femininity. It's my search for new forms of femininity through organic silhouettes, delicate craftsmanship, innovation, and collaboration with other artists, architects, and scientists.

There’s beauty in contrast, new terrains are found at the intersection between precision and chaos, art and science, the human touch and the high-tech, the artificial and the organic.

with over 15 collections van herpen has always made it clear about her extraordinary talent introducing her collection in Paris Fashion Week 2017 AERIFORM

AERIFORM – ‘Aeriform’ examines the nature and anatomy of air and the idea of airborne materiality and lightness, creating negative and positive space with shadow and light.

Van Herpen also drew inspiration from the Danish underwater artists Between Music who challenge the relationship between the body and its elemental surround, in a subaquatic environment where air is absent.

“Their liquid voices and the subsonic darkness from Between Music overwhelmed me. It motivated me to dive into the contrasts between water and air, between inside and outside, between darkness and lightness.”

Music has collaborated with deep sea divers, physicists, and neuroscientists over many years to develop a hypnotic biophonic sound sculpture that they perform on custom-built instruments while submerged in water. Their work transcends and transforms the conventional and natural relationship between our bodies and the elements.

“I’m doubly fascinated: I feel so free in the water – and at the same time I feel a slight hint of terror. Water is a fantastically exciting element because of its dual nature.”

Leila Skovmand, Between Music

Air and water are the structural and visual components of the eighteen elaborate silhouettes of the collection and have influenced the development of both the textiles and garment construction, which is reflected in their volumes, rippling patterning, and translucent layering.

Biomorphic structures include a feathery-light metal lace of geodesic floral patterns in collaboration with Philip Beesley, which float around the body like a silver cloud. Echo waves of mylar-bonded cotton ripple across the skin mapping the surface of the body and painting its contours.

The shoes are made from soft suede with a parametric welded metal heel, creating a delicate molecular lattice around the foot.

LUCID – For her Lucid collection the Dutch designer Iris van Herpen explores the concept of lucid dreaming. Within a lucid dream, the dreamer is conscious of the dream state and therefore is able to exert a degree of control on what is happening.

“When I design, the draping process most of the time happens to me unconsciously. I see lucid dreams as a microscope with which I can look into my unconsciousness. In this collection, I have tried to bring my state of ‘reality’ and my state of dreaming, together,” notes the designer.

Both the models and the audience are mirrored as one in the show space, creating a close-up and intimate experience that is amplified by seventeen large optical light screens (OLF). Depending on the viewing angle, movement, and proximity to the sheets, the perception of the audience that views the models is continuously shifted and deluded to reflect the fine line between reality and unreality

. The visual alienation of the OLF was influential to van Herpen her design process. There are 2 main design techniques presented in the collection: the lucid looks and the phantom dresses. The lucid looks result from the designer’s continuous collaboration with the artist and architect Philip Beesley. These looks are made from transparent hexagonal laser-cut elements that are connected with translucent flexible tubes, creating a glistering bubble-like exoskeleton around the wearer’s body.

The phantom looks are made with a super light tulle to which iridescent stripes are fused, shimmering the silhouette illusory. Continuing van Herpen’s vigor of fusing technology with handcraft, the collection features two 3D-printed Magma dresses that combine flexible TPU printing, creating a fine web with polyamide printing. One of the dresses is stitched from 5,000 3D-printed elements. This season van Herpen opted for organic, circular, and voluminous silhouettes in light, iridescent colors of nude, green, and gray.

The Aero shoes in collaboration with Finsk, are made from wood, laser-cut leather, and an ultra-thin transparent acrylic heel that separates the sole and the upper, creating a hovering look.