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How Iris van Herpen has transformed the world of couture

The Dutch designer is a force to be reckoned with 

A model walks the runway in a patterned dress with diamond avant-garde detailing
Orin Carlin
Content Writer
Updated: 5 July 2023
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Boundary-shattering Iris van Herpen is an outlier in the world of couture, and the maison's unique approach is reflected in its radical, avant-garde collections.

With a focus on contrast, fittingly her eponymous brand fuses artisanal craftsmanship with cutting-edge technology and, trust us, the results need to be seen to be believed.

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What is the story behind the Iris van Herpen label?

The Dutch designer receiving applause after the show© Getty
The Dutch designer receiving applause after the Fall 2023 Couture show

Dutch-born designer Iris van Herpen grew up in a farming village and learnt ballet from a young age. Her childhood, backgrounded by dance, prompted her to think about space and volume in forensic detail – a theme to which she constantly refers in her work.

After Iris graduated from Arnhem's ArtEZ University of Arts in 2006, she interned at Alexander McQueen. The following year the designer launched her own eponymous label and released her first couture collection, entitled 'Chemical Crows', at Amsterdam Fashion Week.

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Model wears silver mini dress with flowy organza train © Getty
Iris Van Herpen Fall 2023 Couture

 Iris was one of the first designers to fully harness the powers of 3D-printing, her designs often explore nature and pattern – themes that lend themselves to digital fabrication and laser cutting, among other innovative techniques.

Model wears unique beaded headpiece © Getty
Iris Van Herpen Fall 2023 Couture

As such, her profile rose and her designs were worn by those who appreciated her visionary approach – Lady Gaga, for instance, who is similarly known as a trailblazer in her respective field, has been a huge fan of the brand since 2009.

What is Iris van Herpen known for?

Model with gold celestial-esque headpiece © Getty
Iris Van Herpen Fall 2023 Couture

  The brand boasts an instantly recognisable aesthetic, largely centred around the use of unconventional materials – silicones, iron filings, and resin, to name a few.

Iris van Herpen pieces tend to focus on the idea of fashion as an art form, with designs often possessing strong sculptural tendencies and exuding a certain offbeat, radical glamour.

"Fashion is an instrument for change, to shift us emotionally," Iris said about her creative focus. "Through biomimicry I look at the forces behind the forms in nature, these patterns and natural cycles are my guide to explore new forms of femininity for a more conscious and sustainable fashion for the future."

Iris van Herpen Fall 2023 Couture

Three models wearing sculptural, avant-garde designs from Iris van Herpen's new Fall Couture collection © Getty
The label's Fall 2023 Couture collection was entitled 'Architectonics'

At Paris Couture Week, the label unveiled its Fall 2023 collection, directly inspired by Iris' futuristic vision in which humans will inhabit both land and water. Threaded with reference to the climate emergency, models flooded the runway, steeped in architectural fluidity. Gowns dripped with fine pleats, structural headpieces brought a certain ethereal delicacy and aqueous organzas flowed with oceanic energy. 

Camila Cabello wearing avant-garde Iris van Herpen outfit at Paris Couture Fashion Week © Getty
The singer wore one of Iris van Herpen's creations to the label's Fall 2023 Couture show

Camila Cabello was one of the stars who adorned the front row with one of Iris van Herpen's designs. The singer exuded fairytale glamour in a semi-sheer plunging gown with lilac and lime accents, topping off her look with gold platforms. 

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