Iris Van Herpen Exhibition Blends Art and Science

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Iris Van Herpen. The work can be a designer closely studied by architects as it is by fashion students.

After all, the Dutch couturier’s retrospective exhibition, which opens to the public at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris on Wednesday, was commissioned by design and architecture historians, not fashion specialists.

“Iris is not just a fashion designer,” says Chloe Pitiot, head of the museum’s modern and contemporary department. “She collaborates with many artists, architects, designers and historians, pushing the boundaries of fashion. Hers is a new way of thinking about tomorrow. …Iris is very concerned about the planet and our future, and I think it’s important for the public to see how a fashion designer can be open to humanity.”

Iris Van Herpen.Shaping the senses” will be mixed to about 100 High fashion Fossils, skeletons, avant-garde artworks, microscopes, various instruments and installations are made to evoke the entire cosmos.

“It was important for us to make a connection with science because the iris is so connected to physics and all the human-related sciences,” Pitiot said.

The Bartlett School of Architecture at University College London is known for its cutting-edge approach to urbanism and futuristic lifestyles, focusing on subjects not dissimilar to Van Herpen’s horizons, which is why students and researchers there study her designs, Pitiot said. .

Irish furniture maker Joseph Walsh is another figure in the design world who follows Van Herpen’s work.

When Pitiot and co-curator Louise Curtis spoke to artists, industrial designers and other professionals from various disciplines, they rarely needed to explain Van Herpen’s work, nor did they do much convincing to contribute artifacts, artwork or information. Exhibition.

Van Herpen has collaborated with Jolan van der Wiel, Rogan Brown and Neri Oxman, and artists such as Philip Beasley and Bentham & Crowell Architects.

b ExhibitionFor the first piece, titled “Water and Dreams,” Beasley and Van Herpen were recruited by Rotterdam-based Hans Bodt Mannequins to create mannequins that appear to be assembled from a hovering liquid.

Visitors are advised to top-up their smartphones before visiting the exhibition – equivalent to visiting a natural history museum, a modern art gallery, a planetarium and a fashion show. Touching with the Magician is visually arresting from start to finish.

“I think a lot of my work is about a hypnotic feeling—an illusion,” Van Herpen says.

The human body is a key theme, providing training for a designer’s elementary ballet dancer, but treated more from a scientific perspective, from cells to muscles and bones, Pitiot said.

Due to the fact that Japan’s collective Mee, a giant hyperrealistic wave installation, is made up of 70 percent water, Van Herpen, just outside Amsterdam, is now under threat from rising sea levels.

In a vitrine one can spy fashion images in the projections of microorganisms in seawater.

What’s more, the designer filmed her Spring 2023 collection in a deep European pool, while her Fall 2024 couture show was inspired by the underwater architecture pioneered by the likes of Bjarke Engels and Jacques Ruggieri.

“I think it’s going to be fun for the public because it’s not just a costume show,” Pitiot said in an interview at the museum. “Each room explores a question for the visitor – a question about the body or the way we live on this planet.”

She marvels that Van Herpen’s clothes come together to bring to mind a futuristic skyline.

Ultimately, her designs illuminate otherworldly beauty and speak of human possibilities, adding a bright perspective to an unstable world, Pitiot concluded.

The exhibition features nine themes – including the origin of life, skeletons, nature and mythology – complemented by works by the likes of Rogan Braunert, Wim Delvoye, Tim Walker, Matthew Harrison, Damien Jalett, Kohe Nawa and Casey Curran. Designs by Neri Oxman, Ren Ri, Ferruccio Laviani and Thomas Libertini.

There’s still plenty to see for fashion fans, as fans rock Van Herpen’s delicate creations and a recreation of her Amsterdam atelier offers a window into her craft, a mix of traditional techniques such as hand embroidery and more advanced 3D printing and silicon molding techniques.

Visitors will see her experiments with miniature dress forms and how sometimes the embellishments are first drawn on paper and then applied to the stockman.

In the interview, Van Herpen said that since she founded her house 16 years ago, she has kept an “artist’s copy” of each of her dresses, allowing Arts Decoratifs to display works on all of her fashion projects.

The classic pieces made of umbrella steel ribs were presented at Amsterdam Fashion Week shortly after she graduated from the Arts Institute in Arnhem and had a brief internship with Lee Alexander McQueen.

Her early designs reflect her commitment to great craftsmanship and her early interest in organic forms and scientific inspirations.

While femininity is at the center of Van Herpen’s aesthetic, her early work focused on protective and armor-like constructions, while her recent collections are “very soft and feminine,” she laments.

Her crumbly, lace-like constructions are just shy of some of the objects in the exhibition: fossilized sea sponges and delicate white web works created by real spiders.

One of the most recent designs on display was a custom piece for Beyoncé, which the star bought for her “Renaissance” world tour and donned for her performance in Amsterdam.

“I was honored to be a part of that and translate her vision into my own signature design,” Van Herpen said. “Of course she’s very powerful, but I also wanted to bring a quality to the material.”

Photographs of several celebrities in her designs hug the spiral staircase that connects the exhibition’s two levels, and the clothes worn by Björk, Grimes and private clients are also displayed.

An immersive journey that engages all the senses, the show is soundtracked by artist Salvador Red’s original music – or sometimes haunting noises – and concludes with pieces dedicated to Van Herpen’s atelier.

Here, visitors can find hundreds of works-in-progress and design experiments, from textiles and examples of “miniature architecture” to a cabinet of curiosities containing accessories, books, paintings, sculptures and natural history pieces.

“It’s really about showing the progress of all the crafts,” Van Herpen said.

While samples of some of the materials Van Herpen deploys for her clothing are displayed in petri dishes, hundreds of others are arranged in hues and textures that evoke distant planets or undiscovered undersea worlds.

Known for his creations using technologies ranging from laser-cutting and 3D printing to electromagnetic weaving, Van Herpen has been the subject of solo exhibitions at major institutions, including the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands in 2012, the Swedish Textile Museum in 2014, and the High Museum. of Art in Atlanta in 2015 and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto in 2018.

The Paris show runs until April 28.

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