Growing up in a small town in the Netherlands, Iris van Herpen expressed herself through classical ballet, painting and playing the violin, before discovering the transformative nature of fashion. With Time Magazine naming her 3D printed dresses as one of the 50 best innovations of 2020, she is a fashion innovator and designer who reimagines fashion’s potential with her unique, futuristic designs. She graduated from ArtEZ studying fashion design and worked with Alexander McQueen and Dutch Artist Claudy Jongstra at the start of her career, before founding her eponymous label in 2007.
Since then she has successfully placed her brand at the frontier of tech innovation by experimenting with different materials and manipulating fabrics to create surrealist designs. Although technology is a big aspect of her work, Iris simply sees it as a vehicle that drives her creative process and helps realise her ideas, and instead considers nature to be at the core of everything she does. Producing only a limited number of curated designs every year, she envisions an outcome first without limiting her imagination to the available resources and existing design practices, and then works with her design team to realise the outcomes. Her work is also highly collaborative in nature and she often joins forces with multidisciplinary artists across all boards, from dance to scientists to architects, to push boundaries within fashion. Her collaborations have led her to work with creatives like Björk, Nick Knight, Jolan van der Wieland Neri Oxman and architects such as Philip Beesley and Benthem and Crouwel Architects.
Iris’ designs are viewed more often as fine art than as clothing, and have found home in various museums like Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York and the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, and Fédération française de la couture has shown her collections at the Paris Fashion Week since January 2011.
In her words, her designs focus on organic femininity; intricate designs that are created with the purpose to empower, celebrate femininity and innovate, all at the same time.