Behind the Seams | Iris van Herpen’s Bold Vision Arrives at the High

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On Friday, November 7, 2015 I had the opportunity to attend the launch party for the High Museum of Art’s first fashion exhibition, “Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion.” The exhibition consists of three pieces from each of van Herpen’s fifteen Haute Couture collections. The elaborate selection is displayed chronologically on custom mannequins throughout several galleries and accompanied by videos from the artist’s multimedia runway shows.

Drawing inspiration from art, science, music, and philosophy, this celebrated fashion designer creates bold, futuristic clothes that feel more like sculpture. Non-traditional materials such as silicone, hand blown glass, polyurethane resin, and umbrella ribs allow van Herpen to realize forms and ideas hard to execute with traditional fabrics and techniques. Consequently, the focus becomes the craftsmanship.

Up close the innovative creations evoke mystery, spark curiosity, and have an utterly different effect.

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“Biopiracy” boots worn by Taylor Swift in her “BadBlood” video are also among the stunning designs on view.

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, which the designer and her team remade especially for the show, 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.

"Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion" will be presented at the High Museum through May 2016 then continue on its North American tour to Grand Rapids Art Museum opening Fall 2016 and the Dallas Museum of Art opening Spring 2017.

Additional goodies for those not in Atlanta: Experience the fusion of technology and craft at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology” will open May 2016, explore notions of man-made versus machine-made in couture, and feature pieces by van Herpen as well.