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How Iris van Herpen is Transforming Fashion

This Dutch designer’s ethereal creations bring a bit of unconventionality to Dallas, Texas

Iris van Herpen is perhaps the most acclaimed fashion designer you’ve never heard of—but not for long. The 33-year-old, Amsterdam–based fashionista’s singular creations—like the sculptural dresses, inspired by crows and crafted from brass umbrella ribs, that showed at Amsterdam Fashion Week in 2008—are the focal point of the Dallas Museum of Art’s just-opened Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion, on view through August 20. The exhibition, a survey of 45 extraordinary ensembles, premiered at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art and will subsequently travel to the Phoenix Museum of Art. Van Herpen’s time interning with Alexander McQueen was palpable in her work when she launched her label in 2007, after graduating from the acclaimed fashion program at the Netherlands’ ArtEZ University of the Arts. She went on to become one of the youngest designers ever invited to show at the couture collections.

Solange Knowles in Van Herpen at the 2017 Grammy Awards; Refinery Smoke, dress, 2008.
Image credit: Solange/Jason Laveris/Filmmagic
Dress/Bart Oomes, No 6 Studios


Van Herpen often uses unconventional materials and high-tech processes to create her handcrafted garments, which include a reptilian mini-dress assembled from undulating black acrylic tubes and a 3D-printed frock that Time magazine anointed one of the “50 Best Inventions of 2011.” Fans like Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Björk have worn her dresses; earlier this year, Solange Knowles posed in sweeping van Herpen couture while hoisting her first Grammy award. The designer emphatically insists that her work, often described as futuristic and otherworldly, is of the present—and the time to see it is now. 

Main image: Iris van Herpen, courtesy of Jean Baptiste Mondino and Iris van Herpen