Iris Van Herpen’s debut couture collection

By: Emilia Moberg

Iris Van Herpen is a Dutch designer, born in 1984, in the small town of Wamel, Netherlands. In her youth, she enjoyed painting and dance before being introduced to fashion as an art form in high school. During those formative years, Van Herpen learned the building blocks of fashion design, which inspired her to pursue an education at the Artez Institute of the Arts Arnhem. Her influences include Alexander McQueen and Claudy Jongstra, whom she interned for before starting her own brand in 2007. 

Since then, Van Herpen’s style has been defined by a futuristic, fantastical, sci-fi use of non-conventional materials, including 3-D printed garments. She has collaborated with a variety of other designers, artists and choreographers whom have further inspired her unique sensibility. Her work has been featured in the MET in New York City and the Royal Museum in Toronto, and has received various other accolades. 

One of the notable collections out of her repertoire is her debut couture collection, Capriole. It was presented during Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2011. The show contains highlights from previous collections, but the heart of the show revolves around 5 new designs. These designs are intended to convey the feeling one experiences “Just before and during a free-fall parachute jump”. 

The first of these designs is a tangled knot of black plastic tentacles formed into a the shape of a mini dress. According to Van Herpen, the piece is a representation of one’s state of mind before skydiving. The three dresses to follow utilize geometric shards of black and translucent plastic material, which sculpt and expand from the models body. The collection’s final dress, called “The Skeleton Dress”, was created through 3-D printing technology. The dress loosely follows the structure of a human skeleton, with abstract ribs, spine and hip bones. Van Herpen likens the garment to the feeling of being “turned inside out” while falling through the air. 

“The Skeleton Dress” – Image taken from:
“The first of these designs is a tangled knot of black plastic tentacles formed into a the shape of a mini dress.” – Image taken from:

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