Press RoomPress ReleasesHigh Museum of Art Premieres North American Tour of Iris van Herpen’s Innovative Haute Couture Designs

High Museum of Art Premieres North American Tour of Iris van Herpen’s Innovative Haute Couture Designs

November 5, 2015

Major exhibition to feature recent works, including imaginative sculptural designs crafted using 3D-printing technology

ATLANTA, Nov. 5, 2015 – The High Museum of Art is the first U.S. museum to present a major exhibition of work by visionary Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen, a cutting-edge artist inspired by diverse influences in the arts, sciences, music and philosophy.

Marking the High’s first presentation of fashion design, “Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion” features one-of-a-kind haute couture—acclaimed for its combination of traditional craftsmanship and futuristic, innovative techniques—and includes some of the world’s first examples of 3D-printed fashion. The exhibition is co-organized with the Groninger Museum (the Netherlands) and debuts at the High, where it will be on view from Nov. 7, 2015, through May 15, 2016, before continuing on a North American tour.

“Iris van Herpen’s work is an incredible fusion of artistic expression, craftsmanship and creativity,” said Sarah Schleuning, curator of decorative arts and design at the High. “The marriage of traditional, handcrafted designs and 21st-century technology makes her work innovative, dynamic and a signifier of a bold, new future for fashion design. With this presentation, the High continues to champion the outstanding visionaries who design the world around us.”

Iris van Herpen has garnered international acclaim for her couture designs, which interweave traditional handwork with groundbreaking 3D-printing technology, computer modeling and engraving constructed in collaboration with architects, engineers and digital design specialists. Her visually impressive, sculptural designs—often featuring unusual materials such as magnets, umbrella ribs and synthetic boat rigging—create silhouettes that appear both organic and futuristic. Her work has been worn by style icons such as Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and Bjork and has graced the runways of Amsterdam, London and Paris.

“Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion” features 45 outfits carefully selected from 15 of van Herpen’s collections designed from 2008 through 2015, offering a comprehensive visual survey of her design career to date. Included are 18 pieces from the designer’s six most recent lines and a selection of her shoe designs, as well as 27 pieces from the Groninger Museum’s 2012 solo exhibition of van Herpen’s work—all displayed on custom mannequins. The accompanying wall texts explore the underlying concepts for each piece and examine how intuition and imagination are central to the designer’s process.

Key designs featured in the exhibition include:

  • The delicate, transparent “ice” dress from the Magnetic Motion (Spring 2015) collection. van Herpen challenged 3D-printing systems to create the dynamic and groundbreaking design, which was recently acquired by the High as the Museum’s first fashion acquisition.
  • Three dresses made from the ribs of children’s umbrellas from Chemical Crows (January 2008), a collection inspired by the ancient tradition of alchemy and a group of crows living near van Herpen’s studio in Amsterdam. Like the creations of ancient alchemists, van Herpen’s designs demonstrate a passion for controlling and transmuting materials, and the pieces in this collection suggest the shapes and movement of wings and feathers.
  • Fashion’s first 3D-printed dress presented in a runway show from Crystallization (July 2010), van Herpen’s collection inspired by limestone deposits and water in its various states, such as splashes or ice crystals.
  • A dress made of black acrylic sheets constructed in serpentine forms that writhe and “breathe,” nicknamed the “snake dress,” from Capriole (July 2011), a collection evoking the dramatic feelings before and during a free-fall parachute jump (a collaboration with Isaie Bloch).
  • A selection of shoes designed by van Herpen (including 3D-printed examples), created in collaboration with United Nude.

To provide a more in-depth look at van Herpen’s creations, a gallery in the exhibition is devoted to showcasing the designer’s innovative materials, with examples available for visitors to touch. These samples are accompanied by detailed descriptions that explain how van Herpen’s partnerships with architects, designers, scientists and 3-D printing companies inform, inspire and shape her work. Also on view is a 10-minute video featuring an interview with van Herpen and footage from her six most recent runway shows.

The exhibition is co-curated by Schleuning, Mark Wilson, chief curator for the Groninger Museum, and Sue-an van der Zijpp, curator of contemporary art for the Groninger. Following its presentation at the High, the exhibition will travel to multiple venues throughout North America, including the Grand Rapids Art Museum (Fall 2016), Dallas Museum of Art (Spring 2017), Cincinnati Museum of Art (Fall 2017) and Phoenix Art Museum (Spring 2018).

About Iris van Herpen
Iris van Herpen (b. 1984 in Warmel, the Netherlands) had an intuitive appreciation of fashion and art as a youth and became interested in designing clothes while attending the Preparatory Course Art & Design at the Artez Institute of the Arts Arnhem. Iris van Herpen went on to study Fashion Design at Artez and held internships with Alexander McQueen in London and Claudy Jongstra in Amsterdam. Iris van Herpen’s 2006 graduation collection “Machine Jewellery” demonstrated her interest in the visualization of elusive concepts and intangible elements and her inventiveness in material use and treatment. A year after graduating, van Herpen began designing womenswear collections under her own name. Through her extensive interdisciplinary research and collaborations with other artists, van Herpen has developed a unique and avant-garde style aesthetic that has been lauded by TIME MagazineInStyle and Women’s Wear Daily, among other notable publications. In 2011, at age 27, she became the youngest member ever to join the exclusive official calendar of the Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week, and in 2014 she was awarded the highly prestigious ANDAM Award. Her designs are currently featured in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Exhibition Catalogue
The exhibition is accompanied by a 394-page catalogue containing an overview of all of the designer’s collections, including her most recent, as well as introductory texts for each collection. The volume features an interview with van Herpen by Schleuning and photography of van Herpen’s runway shows and beautiful close-ups by photographer Bart Oomes.

Exhibition Organization and Support
“Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion” is co-organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and the Groninger Museum, The Netherlands. Support for this exhibition is provided by Presenting Sponsors Delta Air Lines and wish Foundation and Contributing Sponsors AmericasMart and Northern Trust. Generous support is provided by Swarovski, Heineken and UPS. Additional support from Creative Industries Fund NL, Ms. Louise Sams and Mr. Jerome Grilhot, and The Friends of Iris van Herpen.

About the High Museum of Art Decorative Arts and Design Department
The High’s decorative arts and design collection is the most comprehensive survey of American decorative arts in the southeastern United States, with more than 2,300 objects dating from 1640 to the present. Strengths of the collection include works of 20th- and 21st-century design that explore the intersections between art and design, handcraft and technology, and innovation and making. Highlights include the Virginia Carroll Crawford Collection of American decorative art, with important works by Alexander Roux, Herter Brothers, Tiffany & Co. and Frank Lloyd Wright. Other notable gifts include the Frances and Emory Cocke Collection of English Ceramics from 1640 to 1840. Recent acquisitions focusing on design from the 20th and 21st centuries include key additions of Gerrit Rietveld’s “Red/Blue Chair” (1918), Ron Arad’s “Blo-Void 1” chair (2006) and Joris Laarman’s “MX3D (Dragon Bench) (Prototype)” (2014).

About the High Museum of Art
The High is the leading art museum in the southeastern United States. With more than 15,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the High Museum of Art has an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American art; a significant collection of historic and contemporary decorative arts and design; significant holdings of European paintings; a growing collection of African American art; and burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, photography, folk and self-taught art, and African art. The High is also dedicated to supporting and collecting works by Southern artists. For more information about the High, visit

About The Woodruff Arts Center
The Woodruff Arts Center is one of the largest arts centers in the world, home to the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the High Museum of Art and Arts for Learning. Each year, these arts organizations play host to over 1.2 million patrons at the Woodruff Arts Center’s Midtown Atlanta location, one of the only arts centers in the U.S. to host both visual and performing arts on a single campus. Through its work with educators and schools, the Woodruff Arts Center serves over 300,000 students annually and is the largest arts educator in Georgia.

About the Groninger Museum
With a constant influx of around 200,000 visitors a year, the Groninger Museum is one of the most important museums in the Netherlands. It is renowned for its exceptional post-modern building, which was designed by Alessandro Mendini in conjunction with guests architects Philippe Starck, Michele de Lucchi, and Coop Himmelb(l)au. The museum owns a centuries-old historical collection including archaeological finds, North-Netherlands traditional costumes, and Asian ceramics. In the field of modern and contemporary art, the museum is the proud owner of a large collection of Dutch expressionist work and post-modern Italian and contemporary design, staged photography and avant-garde fashion. The Groninger Museum applies a varied exhibition policy that devotes attention to regional, national and international developments in history and contemporary art. The Groninger Museum also distinguishes itself by often presenting the first international solo survey exhibition of an artist or designer. Exhibitions of the work of Azzedine Alaia, Marc Newson, Viktor and Rolf, Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, Hussein Chalayan, Song Dong, Jaime Hayon and Joris Laarman amply illustrate this fact.

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