Avant- garde Dutch designer, Iris van Herpen produces designs that renew and reinvent form.
Her pieces are refreshingly always bold, riveting, conceptual, individual, futuristic, three – dimensional and compelling.
After internships at Alexander McQueen and Claudy Jongstra, Iris van Herpen graduated at the ARTEZ Academy of Arts in Arnhem. She went on to present collections in both Amsterdam Fashion Week and Tokyo Fashion Week. Her collections were enthusiastically received by the national and international press.
Her Autumn Winter 2009 collection was centered on the concept of Mummification. Then for Spring/Summer 2010 she showed her sixth collection, an eleven piece strong line- up (handmade) at London Fashion Week entitled Radiation Invasion.
The collection featured porcelain looking leather dresses with wave/spiral like manipulations in fabric, an epic body contoured black sequin dress, all the designs were three- dimensional and asymmetrical etc.
“I think that in the future people will find ways to be able to see radiation which will develop a new dimension apart from the body. Imagine we could attract and reject radiation waves as a magnet. Being beautiful will then get a totally new and more extended form” says Iris van Herpen.
The collection was received good acclaim. In 2009 Iris won the Dutch design Award for Best Product Fashion, Jewellery & Accessories. I have had been intrigued by talented van Herpen¹s use of fabric, her explorations in form and just had to interview the designer to get to the root of her work.
1. Iris thank you for granting this interview. I am fascinated by your seemingly continual exploration of form. Please share your thoughts on this.
For me creating new forms is essential when I am designing. The woman body and her movements are always a starting point and inspiration for me.
It is a challenge for me to not only create form, but I like to go beyond that, I see every dress as a puzzle to solve and create forms within other forms. So my intention is not to just create a new form around a body, but to frame three dimensional textures which together create new forms like is happening in nature a lot as well.
I danced a lot myself and dancing is still an inspiration for me as well, it is such a pure form of art that I like to take the movements with me into fashion .
2. You manipulate fabric exceptionally creating bold structures and conceptual shapes. Would you say this was this an intentional design signature?
No, it is more pure than that. Its me. What I create is not intentional in any way. It is a translation of what I think, what is happening with me, around me and also globally. It is a mix of reality combined with fantasy and history with future.
3. You showed a successful Spring/Summer 2010 line up at London’s Royal Festival Hall. At the show I was drawn to the rippling wave like manipulations in the form of the designs. The collection is entitled Radiation Invasion. Could you kindly please tell us a bit about it?
For my ´Radiation Invasion´ collection I was inspired by all the invisible radiation around us caused by telephones, internet etc. There are millions of waves around us and also all going through our bodies. It would be absolute craziness if we could see them. I also find it a bit scary because we hardly know any consequences and I think we will find out in near future.
‘Radiation Invasion´ was a translation of my imagination of how different types of radiation will look when visible and how they look while flying around our body.
4. For the collection you collaborated with artist Bart Hess, how did this come about and how did you find the process?
Bart Hess is really great with textures, shape and manipulating the body, I found out about him because Lucy, an artist he is working with a lot, contacted me.
I got inspired and asked him to design a fabric/texture for my Radiation collection. It was really lovely to work with him. Our inspirations and ways of working are quite similar so the process went really natural.
5. Prior to that show you had presented at Tokyo and Amsterdam Fashion Weeks respectively. Why London this time and how did find London Fashion Week as a platform?
Since my ´Mummification´ collection I have been represented by Blow PR, a London based PR agency. They have their own show at LFW called´ Blow Presents´ and I felt it was a good step forwards for me.
It is really exciting and refreshing to present on a whole new platform with different people watching my designs. London is a good platform, there is a lot happening, on small and big scale and a lot of variety in what is being showed and in what way; a lot of different ways of presentation. I find that people are really dedicated to fashion; it is not a side issue of life but main issue which make me feel at home.
6. How do you find continual inspiration for your pieces and how do your collection strong concepts come about?
Continual inspiration I find in the woman body and her movements and in special materials.
My concepts I find in questions, which mostly transforms into amazement, I find in my daily life, routines and conversations.
7. What is more important to you as a Fashion designer; design, function or form?
Design and form more then function.
8. Five words synonymous with an Iris Van Herpen design?
Innovation, texture, craftsmanship, form and special materials.
9. Congratulations on winning the coveted Dutch design Award for Best Product Fashion, Jewellery & Accessories. How did it feel like to win and what other things are you hoping to achieve as a designer?
It was a big honour and unexpected for me. I hope to improve and go beyond it constantly in everything I do, to explore the world and inspire every single person possible.
10. Who is the van Herpen muse?
I do not have one muse at the moment, there are too many great people that inspire me to just name one.
van Herpen’s work is thought provoking, I thought her answers were incredibly intelligent. She is a talent to watch.
Visit her site here.
Kind thanks to Iris van Herpen for the interview and Ashley at BLOW PR.
All images feature designs from van Herpen’s Radiation Invasion Spring/Summer 2010 collection. Images from Iris van Herpen website, Photography by Akio.