Couture Fashion

Loving the Alien: Iris van Herpen

By Chere Di Boscio

Wild, generated by powerful forces, creating startling beauty–this description could fit not only nature itself, but also a woman greatly inspired by nature: Iris van Herpen.


For her fifth collection shown in Paris as an invited member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture,
Iris van Herpen focused on the forces of nature. Assisted by artists, scientists and architects, she created a collection that explored the beauty of the invisible natural phenomena that surround us, such as magnetism.



Collaborating with artist Jolan van der Wiel, van Herpen used iron filings and resin to create dresses whose very forms are generated by attraction and repulsion.


This was not the first time the designer collaborated with an artist; she has also worked with sculptor David Altmejd. His organic forms are inspired from the regenerative processes of nature, and the concept made a great impact on  van Herpen’s Wilderness Embodied collection.


Bjork, whose Biophilia album and tour are centred around the forces of nature as reflected in music, was so fascinated by van Herpen’s artistic collaborations, she chose to be dressed by her on the Biophilia tour.


Architects are another source of ideas for van Herpen, especially in the making of her innovative 3D printed creations. Canadian architect Philip Beesley has been consulted to assist in her fashion designs, and iconic architect and United Nude partner Rem D. Koolhaas has helped create 3D printed shoes with foundations that resemble the roots of trees, as were shown on her AW13 runway.



Along with powerful imagery of the forces of nature and regeneration, the zero waste production processes behind 3D printing send a strong message of sustainability from van Herpen’s collections.


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