Museum Premieres Tour of Iris van Herpen's Innovative Haute Couture Designs
Major exhibition to feature recent works, including imaginative sculptural designs crafted using 3D-printing technology
The High Museum of Art is the first U.S. museum to present a major exhibition of work by visionary Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen, a cutting-edge artist inspired by diverse influences in the arts, sciences, music and philosophy.
Marking the High’s first presentation of fashion design, “Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion” features one-of-a-kind haute couture—acclaimed for its combination of traditional craftsmanship and futuristic, innovative techniques—and includes some of the world’s first examples of 3D-printed fashion. The exhibition is co-organized with the Groninger Museum (the Netherlands) and debuts at the High, where it will be on view from Nov. 7, 2015, through May 15, 2016, before continuing on a North American tour.
“Iris van Herpen’s work is an incredible fusion of artistic expression, craftsmanship and creativity,” said Sarah Schleuning, curator of decorative arts and design at the High. “The marriage of traditional, handcrafted designs and 21st-century technology makes her work innovative, dynamic and a signifier of a bold, new future for fashion design. With this presentation, the High continues to champion the outstanding visionaries who design the world around us.”
Iris van Herpen has garnered international acclaim for her couture designs, which interweave traditional handwork with groundbreaking 3D-printing technology, computer modeling and engraving constructed in collaboration with architects, engineers and digital design specialists. Her visually impressive, sculptural designs—often featuring unusual materials such as magnets, umbrella ribs and synthetic boat rigging—create silhouettes that appear both organic and futuristic. Her work has been worn by style icons such as Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and Bjork and has graced the runways of Amsterdam, London and Paris.
“Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion” features 45 outfits carefully selected from 15 of van Herpen’s collections designed from 2008 through 2015, offering a comprehensive visual survey of her design career to date. Included are 18 pieces from the designer’s six most recent lines and a selection of her shoe designs, as well as 27 pieces from the Groninger Museum’s 2012 solo exhibition of van Herpen’s work—all displayed on custom mannequins. The accompanying wall texts explore the underlying concepts for each piece and examine how intuition and imagination are central to the designer’s process.
Key designs featured in the exhibition include:
- The delicate, transparent “ice” dress from the Magnetic Motion (Spring 2015) collection. van Herpen challenged 3D-printing systems to create the dynamic and groundbreaking design, which was recently acquired by the High as the Museum’s first fashion acquisition.
- Three dresses made from the ribs of children’s umbrellas from Chemical Crows (January 2008), a collection inspired by the ancient tradition of alchemy and a group of crows living near van Herpen’s studio in Amsterdam. Like the creations of ancient alchemists, van Herpen’s designs demonstrate a passion for controlling and transmuting materials, and the pieces in this collection suggest the shapes and movement of wings and feathers.
- Fashion’s first 3D-printed dress presented in a runway show from Crystallization (July 2010), van Herpen’s collection inspired by limestone deposits and water in its various states, such as splashes or ice crystals.
- 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).
- A selection of shoes designed by van Herpen (including 3D-printed examples), created in collaboration with United Nude.
To provide a more in-depth look at van Herpen’s creations, a gallery in the exhibition is devoted to showcasing the designer’s innovative materials, with examples available for visitors to touch. These samples are accompanied by detailed descriptions that explain how van Herpen’s partnerships with architects, designers, scientists and 3-D printing companies inform, inspire and shape her work. Also on view is a 10-minute video featuring an interview with van Herpen and footage from her six most recent runway shows.
The exhibition is co-curated by Schleuning, Mark Wilson, chief curator for the Groninger Museum, and Sue-an van der Zijpp, curator of contemporary art for the Groninger. Following its presentation at the High, the exhibition will travel to multiple venues throughout North America, including the Grand Rapids Art Museum (Fall 2016), Dallas Museum of Art (Spring 2017), Cincinnati Museum of Art (Fall 2017) and Phoenix Art Museum (Spring 2018).