News & Runway

Get to Know Iris van Herpen, Best Emerging Designer Nominee for the tFS Style Awards 2014

Iris Van Herpen and Anja Rubik

Iris Van Herpen and Anja Rubik; image: Getty

Iris van Herpen is a high-concept Dutch designer — we’re talking vacuum-packed model high-concept. She worked for Alexander McQueen before launching her namesake label at Amsterdam Fashion Week in 2008.

Iris van Herpen Aesthetic

She’s considered a pioneer when it comes to the use of printing and scanning technologies as well as working with new materials in the fashion space. In a testament to the far-reaching capabilities of technology and her in-depth research, the designer’s signature printed garments are not only flexible, but washable. Her carefully crafted couture designs are often done in collaboration with artists, architects and scientists from prestigious institutions like MIT. While the bulk of her designs are more suited for the likes of Lady Gaga than for everyday wear, van Herpen has shown an increasing amount of more wearable pieces as part of her ready-to-wear collections.

In Her Own Words

  • She sees technology more as a tool than a point of inspiration. “For me technology is more a tool and it just gives me more freedom in my imagination. Often I have something in my mind that is not possible today, that’s why I’m always trying to limit the boundaries of my possibilities because it just gives me more freedom in my creation, so technology is really a tool for that. I can be really inspired by nature, by technology, by art and by dance, but technology is always more like a tool for me.”
  • The designer thinks that 3-D scanners could revolutionize the way we order our clothes, telling Dezeen, “Everybody could have their own body scanned and just order clothes that fit perfectly.”
  • Working with new-to-the-market materials is very difficult and not without its failures. “You just try a lot of things out. I do a lot of research online as well. I work with biologists at MIT, and they come up with a new material. You have to come to a stage where you have a control of the material, and the material is not controlling you. And you don’t always reach that stage.”
  • When asked why she ventured into designing ready-to-wear on top of her haute couture load, the designer explained, “In couture, I really feel that I have to develop something fully new. Ready-to-wear is really a moment where I can give the new techniques and materials a longer story, that I can develop into something wearable and producible for factories.”

Fun Facts

  • The designer is just 30 years old.
  • Björk and Lady Gaga are fans.
  • She teamed with Dom Pérignon earlier this year to create a structure and the packaging for one of the champagne brand’s limited-edition releases, the second plénitude of its Vintage 2004 called Metamorphosis.
  • In 2011, she received a guest invitation to show her designs during the haute couture season in Paris. She currently has a pending membership.
  • The Dutch designer considers herself an introvert and she has revealed having a tough time connecting with people when in a group setting.
  • For the designer’s most recent fall collection, models walked the runway as three models were vacuum-packed with breathing tubes and suspended in midair in the center of the runway.
  • Her 3-D printed dresses were named one of the 50 Best Inventions of 2011 by TIME.
  • She created costumes for the New York City Ballet Gala. Hundreds of translucent plastic chips were sewn onto a stretchy tulle.

Images: Imaxtree

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