For Spring/Summer 2016 Iris Van Herpen explores the powerful confluence of Nature and architecture.  Inspired by the living tree bridges in India, the designer executes  a new approach to garment construction, mixing the techniques of cutting, weaving, folding, and growing into a process that transcends the boundaries of traditional clothes-making.

“The beautiful potential of plants and other organisms to form living architecture inspired me to make a collection that is tangled like a maze around the body. Inspiration came from the way plants and their roots grow, and how roots have been used to grow living bridges in the forests of India. This tradition of growing bridges inspired me to re-envision my process of making a garment.”

Central to the show Gwendoline Christie lies in a deep-time dream, wearing a circular dress which is being woven upon her. The live process blends different techniques - lazer cutting, hand weaving and 3-D printing into one dress, which spreads from the centre, quaquaversal in its geometries.

Three ‘Beings’ move over the sleeping figure , their geological mineral landscape magnetically grown by the artist Jolan van der Wiel , weaving  the dress in real time,  interlacing an architectural mesh  which rays out around her.
“Van Herpen’s work reveals the secret structures of our existence giving us a multidimensional experience of what it is to be alive, it is an investigation into the past, present and future in all its primal and mythological forms. ”
Gwendoline Christie

In order to underscore the growth process inherent in living architecture and the installation, variations of lace were used as the key materials in the collection - a fine organic lace from Calais, a nude, graphic maze-like lace, iridescent changeant silver lace, leather lace embedded with Swarovski ceramic stones, and glass-like transparent lace with square gems. The collection is executed in minimal colors – white, nude, grey, silver  and black tones.

To complement the collection, the “airborne” shoes were developed in collaboration with Finsk. Their ultra-thin platform creates an illusion of the wearer being suspended above ground. 


Hacking Infinity
For her Fall/Winter 2015-16 ready-to-wear collection, presented in Paris on March 10th, 2015 at the Palais de Tokyo, Iris van Herpen explores ideas of terraforming –modifying the biosphere of another planet to resemble that of Earth.

The collection explores the possibility of new geographies and our place within them. The desire to reconfigure space finds expression in light performative materials, which interact with the movement of the body, biomimetic structures and saturated spectral colors. The central geometry is the circle, in both silhouette and cut.  The spherical shape of planetary bodies and the symbol of a boundless ‘hackable’ infinity unfolds before us in a constant flow of mandala-like forms.

Hand plisseed geometries both follow and frame the body while optical lighting film belts propose a polymorphic silhouette and challenge our perception of the figure in space.
This season Van Herpen has developed an extremely light, translucent stainless steel weave, hand burnished to imprint a  sheen of nebula-like colors, whose infinite variations make each garment unique.  Three-dimensionality is imperative to Van Herpen, and she continues her research with the creation of a 3D hand woven textile with designer Aleksandra Gaca. One weave like a mineral geology encases the body while the other cushions it with a light linear grid, threaded and fringed with a raw edge.

Van Herpen pursues her collaboration with the Canadian professor of architecture Philip Beesley on the creation of digitally fabricated dresses made from a black garden of fractal like geometries.

The shoes for the collection were made in collaboration with the Japanese shoe designer Noritaka Tatehana. They are crafted from 3D printed translucent crystal clusters and laser-cut leather.


Magnetic Motion
For her SS 15 ready-to-wear collection, presented in Paris on Sep 30th, 2014, Iris van Herpen explores the interplay of magnetic forces. By thoroughly examining the representation of dynamic forces of attraction and repulsion, the designer fuses nature and technology.
Earlier this year, van Herpen visited CERN the Large Hadron Collider, whose magnetic field exceeding that of earth’s by 20,000 times, provided inspiration for “Magnetic Motion”.
“I find beauty in the continual shaping of Chaos which clearly embodies the primordial power of nature’s performance,” says Van Herpen describing the essence of the collection.
Van Herpen stayed true to her spirit of bridging fashion and other disciplines by collaborating with the Canadian architect Philip Beesley, and the Dutch artist Jolan van der Wiel.
Beesley is a pioneer in responsive ‘living’ sculpture whose poetic works combine advanced computation, synthetic biology, and mechatronics engineering. Van der Wiel is an artist and craftsman whose work with magnetic tension has resulted in dynamic sculptures and installations that bring to mind the power of volcanic eruptions. Both artists strive to erase the boundaries between nature and technology in their work, which coincides with the direction of van Herpen’s creative aim.
The designer worked with techniques like injection molding and laser cutting on maze like structures, 3-D printing and intricate architectural handwork on dresses, jackets, trousers, skirts and blouses giving them dynamic shapes and surfaces that echo the body’s movement. The three dimensional nature and the layering of the garments give them volume.
Emphasizing light and shadow play, the minimalist color palette of black, white, midnight blue, and nude allows the designer to concentrate on the garments’ structure. Micro webs of lace veil and reveal the luminescent glow of crystal forms, while triacetate feathers punctuate the soft drapes and volumes. The controlled structure of the clothes is offset by the chaotic structure of the accessories, where, due to the nature of magnetic growth, no two items are alike. The shoes, belts, necklaces and clutches were “grown” using magnetic fields.


In the recent past, patents on our genes have been purchased. Are we still the sole proprietor of our bodies?
From this question arises a sense of arrested freedom in one's most intimate, solitary state.
A mix of ready-to-wear and couture pieces is presented with artist Lawrence Malstaf -who specializes in the interaction between biology and physicality.
Models float in the air, embryonic, seemingly weightless and in a meditative suspended animation.
Metamorphosis is suggested through intricate enmeshing of materials. Imprisoned fire opal beads gleam through lacerated weaves, artificial fibers compose voluminous, architectural structures, the organic ripple of light on water.
A 3D printing collaboration with Julia Koerner fuses the artisanal with the technical to create a kinetic dress which dances as it amplifies bodily movement. Molded boots in collaboration with United Nude accelerate and reconfigure the silhouette.


Embossed Sounds
Fascinated by the relationship and potential porosity between the senses, Iris Van Herpen has developed clothes that generate sounds by touch.

‘Embossed Sounds’ is the name of her orchestra of human touch which explore garments as electronic instruments that one can touch and play. By touching the clothes, music is sculpted live by the models for their audience in an intimate performance.
Touch sensitive and sensual audio waves threading and weaving over the body creating an intricate sonic web. 
The collection plays on a visual duality, ambiguity, combining the ethereal feminine softness of plissé with the flick knife and swagger of the underground rebel biker :
embossed leather silhouettes embellished with laser cut lacquer leather laces, braiding techniques, and black mirrored handcrafted patterns.The garments  are made of handcrafted 3D silicone pressed structures in leather and high gloss 'liquid' fabrics, woven from silk and nylon threads.
In a black, silver, grey and blue shadow palette, Iris Van Herpen utilises materials ranging from Light georgette silk with woventranclucent acetate fibers to Matte microfiber with high gloss black embroidered thin Plexiglass and Shiny fluid translucent Japanese polyester.
3D pressed silicone is also used to create handcrafted embossed combat shoes.