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WILDERNESS EMBODIED - July 2013, Paris Haute Couture week
Nature is wild. Generated by powerful forces. Its proliferates by creating startling beauty.
Trough her collaboration with artist Jolan van der Wiel, who has spent several years ponderingthe possibilities of magnetism, they have created dresses whose very forms are generated by the phenomenon of attraction and repulsion. Iris van Herpen draws equally upon the life force that pulses through the sculptures of DavidAltmejd. His wild organic forms derived from the regenerative processes of nature have inspired Wilderness Embodied. The human spiritis forged of this same vital energy, coursing and erupting through the limits of the body in suchresplendent displays of extreme tradition or technology as piercings, scarification or surgery.This wild(er)ness of the human body, as unchecked as it is intimate, is one that the designer hassought to reveal the collection.With architect Isaie Bloch and Materialise she continues to develop 3D-printed dresses, which she was the first to present in both static and flexible forms. Her partnership with United Nude's Rem D. Koolhaas and Stratasys has led to shoes like tangled webs of tree-roots around the foot.

VOLTAGE – January 2013, Paris Haute Couture Week
For her fourth collection presented in Paris as a guest member of the Chambre syndicale de la Haute Couture, Iris van Herpen explores the electricity of the body. Experimenting with its use in the field of creation, this collection seeks to portray its tangible movement and power. This ability of light and electricity to change states and bodies is reproduced using the most innovative technologies. Described as an alchemist approach to fashion, Van Herpen’s designs perpetually embrace new collaborations with artists, architects and researchers.
As part of the show she collaborated with new Zealand artist Carlos Van Camp, echoing his notion of controlling high voltage electricity and its interaction with the human body. Van Camp experiments with three million volts running through bodies.Van Herpen shares Canadian architect Philip Beesley’s fascination with materials and structures. They focus specifically on how the reaction of chemistry and electricity causes structures to respond to their environment and react as living beings.
Iris van Herpen is also know for being todays leading fashion designer in the use of 3d printing. Drawing on the idea of movement, the flexible 3D printed dresses are a revolution, a result of collaborations with Neri Oxman of the MIT Media Lab as well as Keren Oxman and Prof. Craig Carter of MIT with Stratasys, and architect Julia Koerner with Materialise.

HYBRID HOLISM – July 2012, Paris Haute Couture Week
The project Hylozoic Ground by the Canadian architect and artist Philip Beesley provided the inspiration for this collection. Hylozoic refers to Hylozoism, the ancient belief that all matter is in some sense alive. Beesley created a responsive architectural system that uses hylozoism in a quite specific way, that is, “we are working with subtle materials, electricity and chemistry, weaving together interactions that at first create an architecture that simulates life but increasingly these interactions are starting to act like life, like some of the ingredients of life”. His environment breathes, shifts and moves in relationship to people walking through it, touching it, and sensing it. Microprocessors invest that environment with a primitive or insect-like intelligence like a coral reef or a great swarm.Iris van Herpen is intrigued by these kinds of possibilities for a future of fashion that might take on quite unimaginable shapes. Fashion that might be partly alive and growing, and, therefore, existing partly independent from us, which in turn allows for a new treatment by humans: instead of discarding the fashion after use, we cherish, value, and maintain it in its abilities to change constantly. Van Herpen’s translated this future vision in a collection that is highly complex and incredibly diverse in terms of shape, structure, and material. For one design, the ‘cathedral dress’ Van Herpen introduced a technique referred to as mammoth stereolithography which refers to a 3D printing method. This 3D printed process is built slice by slice from bottom to top, in a vessel of polymer that hardens when struck by a laser beam.

MICRO – January 2012, Paris Haute Couture Week
Inspired by the pictures that science photographer Steve Gschmeissner took using Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) technology, Micro zooms in on the world of microorganisms that is completely hidden from our sight. The pictures show specimens that are dead, dried, and chemically fixated to preserve and stabilize their structures. Van Herpen remains interested in the living organism. Her designs allude to armature, tentacles, cell structures, and plasma. Some seem moist others glow and move while being worn, coming to live on the body.

CAPRIOLE – July 2011, Paris Haute Couture Week
Iris van Herpen made her debut in Paris as member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture with this collection. Besides being a compilation of highlights from previous collections, this new collection also presented five striking outfits that evoke the feeling just before and during a free-fall parachute jump. A ‘leap in the air’ (the meaning of the French word Capriole) that Van Herpen once in a while takes to reset her body and mind. The five outfits are a reflection of the extreme feelings experienced during that jump. For instance, the dress consisting of serpentine forms made of black acrylic sheets, nicknamed the ‘snake dress’, evokes the mental state at the moment before the jump when, as Van Herpen explains, “all my energy is in my head and I feel as though my mind is snaking through thousands of bends”.
ESCAPISM – January 2011, Paris Haute Couture Week
Escaping from everyday reality through addictive digital entertainment incites in Iris van Herpen not only feelings of emptiness but also associations with the grotesque, the extreme and the fantastic. This collection aims to capture both the exaltation of these addictions, like the disproportionate attention for celebrities (the ‘new heroes’) and its dark flipside, the never fulfilled hunger that is inherent to it. Another important source of inspiration were the exuberant baroque sculptures of the American artist Kris Kuksi. Dramatic bulging spherical shapes alternate with lace- and skeleton-like 3D-prints, and silver-grey fabrics that seem to reflect their own surface.

CRYSTALLIZATION – July 2010, Amsterdam Fashion Week
At the instigation of ARCAM (Architecture Centre Amsterdam) a collaboration was organized between Iris van Herpen and Benthem Crouwel Architects. Benthem Crouwel’s design for a new extension to Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum had earned the nickname ‘bath tub’. This inspired Van Herpen to design a dress that would fall around the wearer like a splash of water, like being immersed in a warm bath, and to express in the collection the different states, structures and patterns of water. Noteworthy is that in this collection Van Herpen presents her first 3D-print that she created in collaboration with the London-based architect Daniel Widrig and that was printed by .MGX by Materialise.

SYNESTHESIA – February 2010, London Fashion Week
Synaesthesia is a neurological condition that results in a combination of sensory perceptions. To underscore the hypersensitivity of the body, and to visualize this entanglement of sensory perceptions Van Herpen secured shiny metal foil on specially treated leather that generated a confusing visual effect without a steady fixation point.

RADIATION INVASION – September 2009, London Fashion Week
Radiation Invasion translates Iris van Herpen’s question of what we could do with our daily (over)dose of electromagnetic waves and digital information streams if we could see them. In these designs the wearer seems to be surrounded by a whimsical complex of wavy rays, flickering patterns, vibrating particles, and reflecting pleats.

MUMMIFICATION – January 2009, Amsterdam Fashion Week
Van Herpen became captivated with the macabre beauty of ancient Egyptian mummification and the intense devotion that surrounds the process. With techniques to swaddle, wrap and cover the body along with the typical geometric and graphic patterns of Egyptian mummies, she elaborates on the practice of the ancient Egyptians to create a new reality for their dead.

REFINERY SMOKE – July 2008, Amsterdam Fashion Week
The ambiguous character of refinery smoke, both beautiful and poisonous, inspired this collection. Van Herpen translated the elusiveness of industrial smoke into specially woven metal gauze. She turned metal threads into an extremely soft and pliable material. The metal kept its characteristic of oxidation and Van Herpen considers this inherent chemical process as (visually) reflecting the dual aspect of industrial smoke.

CHEMICAL CROWS – January 2008, Amsterdam Fashion Week
A group of crows living around Van Herpen’s studio triggered her association with black magic and alchemy. Crows are known for their intelligence, predilection for glittering objects, and are traditionally associated with secrecy and symbolism. Van Herpen shares with alchemists a passion for controlling and transmuting materials. As alchemists tried to turn base metals into gold, so Van Herpen has transformed in several designs gold-coloured ribs of 700 children’s umbrellas into shapes reminiscent of the movement of wings and feathers.

FRAGILE FUTURITY - July 2007, Amsterdam Fashion Week
Starting point for this collections was the fusion of animal instinct and human rationality. The resulting 'creatures/creations' of this combination reflected Van Herpen's view on the future: fragile, vulnerable and evolved. She experimented with forms and shapes of wings, horns, and snake prints.