Iris van Herpen

24 March 2012 to 23 September 2012

Until 23 September 2012, the Groninger Museum presents the first large-scale solo exhibition of the work of Iris van Herpen (Wamel, 1984), one of the most striking designers of this moment. The exhibition offers an overview of her work from 2008 to the present. A selection of her most recent work, such as Capriole and the Micro collection that is to be shown in January 2012, will also be on display.

  • Iris van Herpen, Crystallization, July 2010, photography: BART OOMES, No 6 Studios, © Iris van Herpen
  • Iris van Herpen, Escapism, January 2011, Photo: BART OOMES, No 6 Studios, © Iris van Herpen
  • Iris van Herpen (with Isaïe Bloch), Micro, January 2012, Photo: BART OOMES, No 6 Studios, © Iris van Herpen
  • Iris van Herpen, Capriole, July 2011, Photo: BART OOMES, No 6 Studios, © Iris van Herpen
  • Iris van Herpen, Refinery smoke, July 2008, Photo: BART OOMES, No 6 Studios
  • Iris van Herpen (with Isaïe Bloch), Capriole, Haute Couture 2011, 3-D print, Photo: Ingrid Baars

Van Herpen graduated from the ArtEZ Hogeschool voor Kunsten (ArtEZ Institute of the Arts) in Arnhem in 2006, did an internship with Alexander McQueen, among others, and started a label under her own name in 2007. A year later, she was nominated for the prestigious Createurope: The Fashion Academy Award. Her outfits appeared in Vogue, Numero, Harper’s Bazaar and Dazed and Confused. In conjunction with United Nude, she launched a limited-edition shoe line in 2010. In 2011, the 3-D dress that she designed was acclaimed by TIME Magazine as one of the fifty best inventions of the year. Van Herpen exhibits her work at home and abroad, and last year she was the winner of the Dutch Fashion Awards and the RADO Young Designer Awards. In 2011 Van Herpen became a member of the prestigious Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.

Craftsmanship and new techniques
Iris van Herpen is renowned for her remarkable outfits in which she combines traditional craftsmanship and zealous handwork with innovative techniques such as rapid prototyping and radical material choices such as processed leather sorts, synthetic boat rigging and the whalebones of children’s umbrellas. With these she creates sculptural effects with an astonishing visual impact, which appear both organic and futuristic. Creating a new silhouette is important in her work. Van Herpen regards fashion as a form of self-expression in which she translates her associations and fascinations with everyday reality into a collection. Each collection has its own narrative, and wearability is not the ultimate criterion. For instance, Radiation Invasion is about the invisible radiation and signals all around us that make telecommunication possible. The Synesthesia collection has a neurological phenomenon as its point of departure, where a mingling of sensory perceptions occurs. There are people who can ‘see’ music, for example, or can ‘taste’ colours.

Van Herpen’s work harmonizes with an important field of interest in the Groninger Museum, namely, the interface of art, design and fashion. The outfits that the Groninger Museum acquires in this domain are museum pieces with sculptural and conceptual qualities that stimulate further reflection on the phenomenon of fashion. In this framework, the Groninger Museum has already held presentations on the work of designers such as Azzedine Alaïa, Comme des Garçons, Viktor & Rolf, and Hussein Chalayan.

To accompany the exhibition, the first book on Iris van Herpen will be published. This volume contains an overview of all her collections up to the present, as well as an essay by fashion journalist Jean Paul Cauvin. The book will be issued in conjunction with BAi Publishers. 

The Iris van Herpen exhibition has been compiled by Sue-an van der Zijpp, curator of present-day art, and Mark Wilson, chief curator.

The exhibition has been made possible by a contribution from SNS REAAL Fonds.