In 1984, an enthusiastic fashion designer was born in the Netherlands – Iris van Herpen attained a degree in Fashion Design from Artez Institute of the Arts Amhem and did an internship at Alexander McQueen as well as Claudy Jongstra before starting her own label in 2007. Since the year 2011, she is one of the guest members of Parisian Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.
As a young person, she had an instinctive appreciation of art and fashion in her heart. However, her initial passion lied in dance. When she began her education journey at Artez, she became predominantly interested in designing apparel. Her thesis collection titled Machine Jewelry reflected inventive use of material and treatment. A year after graduation, Iris launched her eponymous brand consisting of women’s wear. Harpen carries out interdisciplinary research and frequently collaborates with different artists to create her uniquely treated creations. Over the years, her work has seen a promising and strong growth. Her designs have received recognition and attention via exhibitions, publications, and awards.
She has collaborated with the following people from the field of art: Nanine Linning (dancer and choreographer), Bart Hess (visual artist), Daniel Widrig, Julia Koerner and Isaie Bloch (architect), Stephen Jones and Irene Bissemaker (milliner), Zach Gold (film maker), Tara Dougans (graphic designer), Joey Yung (singer), Heaven Tanudiredja (jewelry designer) and Joost Vanderbrug (film director). Iris’s creations have been worn by top-notch celebrities and stars including Björk, Daphne Guinness and Lady Gaga.
Harpen’s work cannot simply be defined as fashion design, in fact it transcends beyond the world of fashion and expresses other forms of art. She continuously experiments with unconventional materials, innovative techniques and advanced technologies. At first, she had started off using fabrics in her work, however it limited her from sculpting, building and constructing new structures and forms. Thus she added various atypical materials to her list for usage to create her extraordinary designs. Taking this to consideration, it is not astonishing that the words ‘sculpt’, ‘sculpture’ and ‘sculptural’ are used when referring to her work. However, these works of art not wearable, they only please the eyes and reproduce the designer’s concept.
Harpen’s designs function when they equally interact with the human body and the two complement, complete, follow and transform each other. In Harpen’s designs ‘movement’ plays an essential role and it is highly important to analyze and judge how the body and the design change and behave together during any sort of motion.
She became the first to introduce the 3D printing technology of Rapid Prototyping in the fashion world. Iris is stunned with the way such a medium can work and produce endless design possibilities. Due to this reason, her work started to be referred to as ‘futuristic’.
Iris has won many awards in events such as Mercedes Benz Fashion Awards, Dutch Accessory Awards, Dutch Fashion Incubator Awards, Dutch Media Awards and so on in years 2009 to 2011.
Moving on, Iris van Herpen had a love for classical ballet as she was growing and never realized at the time that her career path would be different than this. However, school changed everything for her. Design meant materiality and Dance on the other hand was very much abstract. According to her, anything created in dance ends with dance but anything she creates in fashion design starts to live its own life once she is done creating them.
To rid herself from the workload, she spends time with her boyfriend or reads a lot. She likes skydiving but not in Netherlands. She considers it a reset of body and mind.