In the fashion industry, it is so rare to find designs that are original, ahead of the curve, or even remotely interesting. While watching shows from fashion week, I often find myself looking at a passionless fever dream as each collection blurs into the next. Although my expectations for fashion week often fall short, Iris Van Herpen is a beacon of light in the darkness perpetuated by the unimaginative fashion industry.
Van Herpen’s ideas are revolutionary. She plays with shapes, patterns, and colors in a way that is both new and exciting with results that are captivating. Van Herpen’s garments are alive; they flow freely around and move with the model. This concept is fitting given that her inspiration stems from the natural world with “infinite properties alluding to movement such as the unbound forces and fluidity behind water or its crystalline formations [being] facets that flow into the designs.” While watching models in her looks walk down the runway, the pieces evoke an alien, otherworldly feeling within the viewer. The lines she creates distort the models’ bodies and create novel silhouettes that always leave me hungry for more. Notable examples of this distortion come from the “Wilderness Embodied” collection where she uses the textiles to accentuate models’ shoulders, hips, and arms, warping their figures in daring ways that most designers would be too apprehensive to do. This collection is just one example of her endless ingenuity. All her collections are distinctly different, as she has examined everything from “Hacking Infinity” to “Mummification”, and each idea is even more unexpected than the last. Van Herpen hypnotizes her viewers and consumers in a way that no other designer can, and I believe this artistry makes her the most creative designer of the twenty-first century.
Apart from her original ideas, Van Herpen’s techniques have trailblazed the world of fashion. She 3-D prints and uses digital modeling techniques on most of her garments. Her fashion is adaptable in an ever-evolving digital age. Her material choice is unprecedented and versatile, utilizing plastics, rubbers, papers, and more to create masterpieces. While fashion is often seen as an art form by those who actively participate in it, there are very few designers who can actually demonstrate this idea, but Van Herpen does so with graceful ease.
Van Herpen’s will undoubtedly leave a legacy of greatness with each collection she creates. While the world-renowned houses of Dior and Chanel are putting out season after season of pathetic excuses, Van Herpen’s collections are a glimmer of hope for bold, venturesome designs that are so few and far between.