StyleOnTheCouch Loves: Iris Van Herpen

Iris Van Herpen Capriole Haute Couture 3

Iris Van Herpen

Iris Van Herpen Capriole Haute Couture 6

Iris Van Herpen

Sometimes, Blog Reader, I play the ‘if-I-were-a-supermodel-game’ of choosing which designers I should like to wear should I have my pick of the catwalks.  In this fantasy I am usually dressed in Iris Van Herpen, designer of haute couture, an astonishing combination of fine handwork techniques and futuristic technology.  Vogue said of Van Herpen, ‘If Lady Gaga and Alexander McQueen ever had a love child it would probably produce someone like Iris van Herpen.  The 27 year old designer from the Netherlands has a flare for the dramatic and a sculpture’s eye for design’.  Often collaborating with artists and scientists in the creation of her garments, this 2011 collection ‘Capriole‘ (Van Herpen’s debut in Paris as a member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture) is one of my favourites.

From her website:

“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  For me fashion is an expression of art that is very closely related to me and to my body.  I see it as my expression of identity combined with desire, moods and cultural setting’.”

Like another designer I admire, Liz Black, Van Herpen focusses on the theme of the female body.  Her pieces express the character and emotions of a woman and extend the shape of the feminine body in detail.

“In all my work I try to make clear that fashion is an artistic expression, showing and wearing art, and not just a functional and devoid of content or commercial tool. With my work I intend to show that fashion can certainly have an added value to the world, that it is timeless and that its consumption can be less important than its beginning. Wearing clothing creates an exciting and imperative form of self-expression. ‘Form follows function’ is not a slogan with which I concur. On the contrary, I find that forms complement and change the body and thus the emotion. Movement, so essential to and in the body, is just as important in my work. By bringing form, structure and materials together in a new manner, I try to suggest and realize optimal tension and movement.”

Of course there is the question of how Van Herpen’s designers translate into functional pieces for the modern woman’s wardrobe.  But as fantasy and inspiration goes, my supermodel status dreams have me on the Van Herpen catwalk.

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  1. says

    Thank for sharing this, Sarah. These designs are absolutely spectacular and I know for sure you’d look gorgeous in them. I love the designer’s inspiration for this collection. I do the same thing every once in a while — press that reset button — it keeps life fresh. But my “reset” has never been something as daring as a parachute jump! And yet, I can somehow totally relate to that feeling of terror before the jump and the visual she created with the snake piece. I will be keeping an eye on Iris Van Herpen for sure.


  2. Karin says

    Hi Sarah,
    How nice to read about your admiration for a Dutch designer! I had the pleasure of seeing one of her fashion shows live and she is truly amazing. I’m a Dutch girl living in Amsterdam, Holland, and am happy to tell you that only last week it was announced that Iris van Herpen will design a pret-a-porter collection, which will arrive in selected stores around the world. Prices will range from 700-3000 euros if I remember correctly. So owning a Van Herpen and playing your Supermodel game may be within reach, presumably somewhere this year!
    Kind regards & please keep sharing your thoughts with us,

    • sarah says

      Hi Karin, this is really good news for me! I did see on her website she was producing ready to wear but I did not know when that was to launch. THank you for stopping by and taking the time to write a note to me about her. I’m very jealous that you got to see one of her fashion shows live! Sarah x

  3. says

    If you were a supermodel? In my opinion you look much better than a supermodel; you have an exquisite natural beauty which is as delicate as a flower yet as strong as fire. …however I like the game! Iris Van Herpen is simply sublime. x

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