In the decade since she graduated from ArtEZ Institute of the Arts Arnhem, Iris Van Herpen has been gaining respect as one of the present era’s most innovative and talented young fashion designers. Bouncing around in earnest, the Dutch-born van Herpen cut her teeth at Alexander McQueen in London and Claudy Jongstra in Amsterdam, before launching her namesake line in 2007 at the tender age of 23. Since then she has shown her revelatory work at Fashion Weeks in Amsterdam, London and Paris, while tacking on a few breathtaking appearances at Paris’ Haute Couture Week in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
For her Autumn/Winter 2016 line, van Herpen once again showed in Paris. Her collection, Lucid, was comprised of dresses with a life of their own, pouring down the runway with robotic jellyfish motifs and undulating kaleidoscope patterns in ultra-rich materials reflected under optical light screens.
A photo posted by Iris van Herpen Official (@irisvanherpen) on Mar 9, 2016 at 6:05am PST
What sets van Herpen apart is her mastery of the art of elevation. Each piece is a beautiful garment that, at the same time, transcends the everyday mundanity of clothing to become an exquisite piece of art. Art that is pleasing meets the criteria, like fashion, of being both lovely to behold and demonstrative of the cultural order in which it’s created. Van Herpen pushes boundaries not just when it comes to trends, but more importantly, in novel methods and components of construction, resulting in spectacular, bellwether collections that set the tone for what’s to come among the fashion elite.
A photo posted by Iris van Herpen Official (@irisvanherpen) on Jan 23, 2016 at 3:18am PST
Van Herpen splits her time between displaying at Paris Fashion Week and, in recent months, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, where she is headlining the Transforming Fashion exhibition through May 16. For the exhibit, her focus centers on the transformation of mundane objects like umbrella tines and metal eyelets into objects of art—showcasing her range from the organic to the 3D-printed, a genre she has shown a talent for since 2011. On June 6, she’ll showcase her water-dress to the public for the first time as the central piece in London’s SHOWcabinet exhibition. A film based on van Herpen’s collaboration with Nick Knight and Daphne Guinness will run alongside the dress.
For now, van Herpen embodies the idea of an exciting up-and-comer—she has a plethora of strong work in her portfolio, but it’s the evolving and constantly expanding nature of that work that keeps us wanting more, making even the oldest industry stalwarts excited for what’s to come.