Seeing a piece by Dutch designer Iris Van Herpen for the first time may provoke a shock and raise many questions. What is this? Is it a piece of clothing? Is it a piece of art? What is it made from? Is it intended to be worn as a garment? What is the designer setting out to achieve?
~~ Essay by fashion journalist Jean Paul Cauvin
Fashion designer Iris van Herpen is renowned for her remarkable outfits in which she combines traditional craftsmanship and diligent handwork with innovative technology and unconventional materials such as synthetic boat rigging, processed leather sorts and the whalebones of children's umbrellas to create visually stunning outfits. Van Herpen regards fashion as a form of self-expression in which she translates her associations and fascinations with everyday reality into a collection. Each collection has its own tale, and wearability is not the ultimate criterion.
"In my eyes, couture creates a balance. Although it can appear like an old club, things are changing and I believe that it is the place to try out new techniques and do research at a time when fashion is concentrating on commercial products. Couture represents the future of fashion."
~~ Iris van Herpen
These statements were made by Van Herpen in January 2011, just before her first show in Paris, while she was still outside the Haute Couture program me. Since then, having already won several Dutch Design Awards, she has met with an enthusiastic reception in France's capital, presenting a retrospective runway show there on the occasion of her first official participation in the Haute Couture calendar in July 2011.
From March 24 to September 23, 2012, the Groninger Museum will present the first large-scale solo exhibition of the work of Iris van Herpen (Wamel, 1984). An overview of her work from 2008 to the present, including a selection of her most recent work, such as Capriole and the Micro collection will also be on display.
Follow Evelyne Politanoff on Twitter: www.twitter.com/evepolitanoff