Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion

This piece is part of a series on “Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion” to celebrate the designer’s first stateside exhibit as its travels around North America. Here we take a deeper look into the collection on view and what museum-goers can expect to see. Join us again tomorrow to learn about what Iris has been up to since “Transforming Fashion”. 

Iris van Herpen has garnered international acclaim for her couture designs, which blend traditional craftsmanship with innovative 3D-printing technology, computer modeling and never-before pursued construction methods in collaboration with architects and engineers. Her complex, sculptural designs often utilize unusual materials such as magnets, resin, umbrella ribs, and plastics to create silhouettes that appear rigid and futuristic but also necessarily earthly.

Iris Van Herpen: Transforming Fashion features 45 of her most provocative designs from 15 of her collections, beginning with her Chemical Crows collection in 2008, offering Museum guests a full retrospective of her work. The exhibit also includes a gallery dedicated to Iris’s process and materials used in her unconventional designs, allowing guests to touch and feel the textiles.

Iris Van Herpen, "Transforming Fashion", Gallery view
Gallery View

This exhibit is co-curated by Sarah Schleuning, the High Museum’s curator of decorative arts and design, Mark Wilson, chief curator of the Groninger Museum and Sue-an van der Zijpp, curator of contemporary art at the Groninger Museum. Following its tenure at the High Museum, it will travel throughout North America, including stops at the Ace Museum (Los Angeles), Cincinnati Art Museum, Dallas Art Museum, Grand Rapids Art Museum and the Phoenix Art Museum.

Organized as a retrospective, the exhibit allows the viewer to see van Herpen’s evolution as a designer and also to experience her creative and construction processes that bring her ideas to life. Important highlights include:

  • Fashion’s first 3D-printed dress presented in a runway show from Crystallization (July 2010), inspired by limestone deposits and water in its various states, such as splashes or ice crystals.

Iris van Herpen, Transforming Fashion, High Museum of Art, High Museum, Atlanta art, Atlanta Museum, Michelle Crosland, A rebel in prada, Atlanta fashion blog, Amsterdam, fashion studio, Iris van Herpen studio, couture studio, Groniger Museum, Netherlands, Dutch

  • A dress made of black acrylic sheets constructed in serpentine forms that writhe and “breathe,” nicknamed the “snake dress,” from Capriole (July 2011), a collection evoking the dramatic feelings before and during a free-fall parachute jump (a collaboration with Isaie Bloch).
Iris van Herpen, Transforming Fashion, High Museum of Art, High Museum, Atlanta art, Atlanta Museum, Michelle Crosland, A rebel in prada, Atlanta fashion blog, Amsterdam, fashion studio, Iris van Herpen studio, couture studio, Groniger Museum, Netherlands, Dutch
Capriole. Photo by Michel Zoeter
  • A selection of shoes designed by van Herpen (including 3D-printed examples), created in collaboration with United Nude.

Iris van Herpen, Transforming Fashion, High Museum of Art, High Museum, Atlanta art, Atlanta Museum, Michelle Crosland, A rebel in prada, Atlanta fashion blog, Amsterdam, fashion studio, Iris van Herpen studio, couture studio, Groniger Museum, Netherlands, Dutch

While Iris is best-known for her work using 3D printing, her body of work is actually much more than that. Her pieces are marked by her ability to manifest abstract ideas into actuality through determined materials research and courageous experimentation with technology. Iris is careful to note, however, that technology is never actually an inspiration for her. “For me, it’s a tool. Inspiration comes much more from science, or architecture, or a dance or play that I saw, or it can even be a musician. Then, if there is a certain idea, I find the technology to create it, if it’s needed.” This interdisciplinary take on couture is what makes Iris so captivating even to non-fashion lovers. Anyone interested in chemistry, technology, architecture, biology, or engineering is sure to find something to explore in “Transforming Fashion”.

“Transforming Fashion” opens at the Dallas Museum of Art on May 21. Join us tomorrow to see what Iris has been up to since “Transforming Fashion”. 

Xoxo Me

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