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  • Written by Damisola Sulaiman


. Iris van Herpen — Symbiotic dress “Shift Souls” collection 2019 Silk organza, crepe, PetG Iris van Herpen Collection © Dominique Maitre

From 29 November 2023 to 28 April 2024, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, presents the opportunity to immerse in the realm of designer Iris van Herpen, described as “one of the most forward-thinking fashion designers”.

The exhibition, curated by Cloé Pitiot and assistant curator Louise Curtis, will convey the avant-garde world of the designer by merging over 100 Haute-couture pieces made by van Herpen, along with works of contemporary art made by the Collectif Mé, Wim Delvoye, Kate MccGwire, Damien Jalet, Kohei Nawa, Casey Curran, Rogan Borwn, Jacques Rougerie and design pieces by Neri Oxman, Ren Ri, Ferruccio Laviani, and Tomáš Libertíny, in addition to items such as skeletons and fossils, to instil a renaissance alongside historical pieces.

Iris van Herpen was born in a village called Wamel, where she practiced classical dance from an early age, sparking her relationship with the body and clothing. She had a formative period with Alexander McQueen and Claudy Jongstra, then founded the Maison Iris Van Herpen in Amsterdam in 2007. In 2010, she joined the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in Paris and presented her first 3D printed dress from the Crystallization Collection.

Van Herpen challenged existing clothing norms while maintaining a traditional couture influence on her work, in terms of technique and craftsmanship. The retrospective looks to celebrate this by focusing on nine themes that identify the essence of her work. The theme of water opens the exhibition with her latest collection, entitled Carte Blanche, followed by the skeleton theme and echoes the work of Japanese artist Heishiro Ishino.

The mythological theme of medusa enters through a dialogue with works by Kate MccGwire, EcoLogicStudio and a piece of Samurai armour. Living Shadows by Beesley brings new nature to the forefront as it comes to life as a derivative of physical dress. An installation by Casey Curran offers a reflection on the place and the physical and spiritual future of human beings. The exhibition ends with van Harpen’s works displayed as though they are floating through space and time.

A sound composition by Salvador Breed accompanies the entire exhibition, further immersing visitors in the sculptural world of Iris van Harpen.


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