Nov 12, 2015 | By Tess

Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen is no stranger to incorporating technology into her designs as she was one of the world’s first fashion designers to use 3D printing technology in her work. Considering this, it is no wonder that van Herpen has been garnering much celebratory attention recently from not only the fashion world but the art world as well. Just last week, Atlanta’s High Museum of Art debuted an exhibition dedicated to van Herpen’s designs called Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion, and next year her designs will be a part of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute installation, Manus x Machina: Fashion in the Age of Technology.

The exhibit at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art features 45 of Iris van Herpen’s designs from 15 of her collections, which range from the beginning of her career in 2008 to the present. The exhibition, in documenting her design evolution also emphasizes the interdisciplinary approach to her fashion design, as she combines elements from design, architecture, technology, and science to produce her pieces.

“It’s our first show about fashion,” explains Sarah Schleunig, curator of decorative arts and design at the High Museum of Art. “[Iris van Herpen] is not a big house. She’s someone relatively early, I hope, in her career. We want to be the institute that took a risk and brought her to the U.S. She’s this great thinker and she makes this incredible work.”

Iris van Herpen studied fashion design at the ArtEZ Institute of the Arts in Arnhem, the Netherlands and went on to intern at both Alexandrer McQueen and Claudy Jongstra before starting her own fashion label in 2007. Since then she has made a name for herself through her daring and innovative fashion designs, as well as her collaborations with a number of notable artists, architects and musicians, including Rem D. Koolhaas, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and Tilda Swinton.

Van Herpen says of her collaborators, “The things I do, I could not do without that support. I think a lot of [fashion] houses are really built to be locked, to be privately driven. If you look at the universe of architecture, it’s much more open-source. I can’t imagine being in my own head, in my own atelier, producing clothes. I think I’d go mental.”

Her corpus of work features incredible garments made from magnetic fabrics, oxidized metals, pieces of children’s umbrellas, and a number of other experimental and exciting materials. What van Herpen is perhaps most known for, however, is her innovative use of 3D printing in her designs.

Iris van Herpen explains how she was drawn into using 3D printing technology in her work, “In the first years I had my label, I did everything by hand. I didn’t even work with a sewing machine. At some point, I realized I had reached a level of control I couldn’t go beyond. I saw 3D printing in architecture, where it’s used for modelling. I was struck by the complexity and detailing it was able to do.”

Crystallization, 2010

Notably, Iris van Herpen was responsible for designing the first ever 3D printed garment to be walked down the runway, a skirt and top combo called Crystallization which she debuted in 2010. From there she kept working with 3D printing, designing Capriole in 2011, an additively manufactured skeleton dress made in collaboration with Belgian architect and designer Isaïe Bloch and 3D printing company Materialise. This piece was made using selective laser sintering, which allowed for the dress to have snaps and hinges to make wearing it possible.

Capriole, 2011

In 2014, van Herpen impressed the fashion and art worlds with her Biopiracy collection, which featured 3D printed pieces made from thermoplastic polyurethane 92A-1, a flexible material developed by Materialise. The collection not only pushed the boundaries of what is considered fashion, but also what was possible to achieve aesthetically with 3D printing.

Biopiracy, 2014

For her Spring/Summer 2015 collection, the designer debuted Magnetic Motion, another ambitious project, which included a transparent, crystalline dress made using stereolithography technology. The piece was made in collaboration with Italian architect Niccolò Casas and 3D Systems.

Magnetic Motion, 2015

Van Herpen has consistenly used 3D printing technology in her work as it allows her the freedom of design and structure that soft materials do not. Her Fall/Winter 2015-16 collection, Hacking Infinity, which debuted at Paris Fashion Week in March of this year, also included 3D printed garments as well as footwear.

Hacking Infinity, 2015

Most recently, at the unveiling of her Spring 2016 collection, eyes were on Iris van Herpen’s hybrid fashion and installation centerpiece, which consisted of Game of Thrones actress Gwendoline Christie lying in the center of the room having a dress being woven on top of her by robot arms.

Gwendoline Christie

The exhibition Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion will be running until May 15th, 2016 at the Atlanta High Museum of Art and is certainly worth a visit. While 3D printing has made its way into the fashion world in a significant way, with mainstream designers and fashion houses turning to its potentials for both design and manufacturing purposes, Iris van Herpen, one of the pioneers of 3D printing in fashion, still stands at the fore of it, consistently creating pieces that are both beautiful and provocative.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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