#SuzyCouture: Iris van Herpen – Lightness Is All


The monster creation in the centre of Iris van Herpen’s runway might have dominated her show.

But the wonder of the Amsterdam-based designer’s presentation is that every piece, however complex or apparently impenetrable, has a reason. It fits the show space, the designer’s story and the body when the workmanship is used to create clothes.

The result is so light and magical, with its layers of ultra-fine materials, that even the designer’s complex explanations fall oh-so-lightly.

“I started with a collaboration with Anthony Howe, who is a sculptor based in Orcas Island, Washington,” Iris explained.

“His work is really the inspiration behind the collection. He uses wind as the base for his sculptures and they are kinetic, so often the sculptures are actually made for outside.”

Iris van Herpen Autumn 2019 couture

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“With this collaboration, we designed the sculpture for the show, but we also worked on a kinetic dress that turns around its own axel,” the designer continued, describing the Infinity dress that took four months to make with the layering of white feathers. They fly cyclically around their own centre, with the hallucinatory motion addictive to watch.

Nothing you hear from Iris or her thoughtful and intelligent theme can compare with seeing her work in motion – the ultralight organza layers bouncing in a simple dress. The eerie colours – the graded abstract patterns on rice paper-thin fabric.

Iris van Herpen Autumn 2019 couture

Getty Images

“The lines blend into each other so the circular shape is really the core of the whole show,” she explained.

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Iris van Herpen Autumn 2019 couture

Getty Images

But the important message is that, as an imaginative fashion label, the Dutch designer gets increasingly convincing.

Compared to the torturous creations of her earlier days, her current work seems magical in its stylish simplicity – even if in her studio hands are hard at work as in any atelier.

“But I also really like the personal connection that I have with all my architects, scientists; we really need six months to develop the collection and the show cycle is really hard going into the material this deeply,” Iris explained.

Every subject that I discussed had a complex but clear reply, especially when I asked about a dress in subtly different shades.

“The colour red and the colour white are blending into each other and there are two patterns,” she explained.

“So within the thin lines, you see the white going into the red. And within the organza, it’s the other way around. So when you move, the colour gradient starts to become alive.”

Bringing complex technique to life is the Iris van Herpen story. And the message is getting clearer with every season that passes.





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