Exotic dress with extended smoke-like frills

Iris van Herpen, Refinery Smoke, Dress, July 2008, Untreated woven metal gauze and cow leather, Groninger Museum, 2012.0196. Photo: Bart Oomes, No 6 Studios

Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion

Heinz Galleries

A rare chance to experience the designer’s striking, otherworldly dresses.

Fashion designer Iris van Herpen (Dutch, b. 1984) marries precision and meticulous handcraft, inventive technological solutions, and a striking, futuristic aesthetic. Organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and Groninger Museum, The Netherlands, Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion gathers seven years of van Herpen’s original haute couture for this exhibition: her first North American tour. Opening February 4 at Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA), it presents 15 of her collections across a bewildering range of materials and techniques.

Pittsburgh is a city of creative makers and fabricators, a center of technology and robotics, and a supportive place for artists. A growing tech sector, and continued reckoning with its industrial past uniquely positions the city to respond to van Herpen’s designs, which are inspired by neuroscience and microbes, science fiction and the environment. She leans on new materials to do what traditional materials don’t, and employs new techniques to wring seemingly impossible forms out of traditional fabrics and common objects.

Iris van Herpen was accepted into the prestigious Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, the organization that governs the Paris fashion scene, in 2011, a recognition of her exacting craft and visionary approach. Her work stunned at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s blockbuster group exhibition Manus x Machina. Celebrities like Beyonce, Bjork, Lady Gaga, and Scarlett Johansson have sought her luxe, otherworldly dresses. Transforming Fashion is a rare chance to experience the broad sweep of her extraordinary designs together in one place.

Exhibition Images

Dress with a high neckline and short sleeves covered in folds of fabric gathered in ridges. These ridges appear as waves up and down the sides.
Hybrid Holism dress, a dark-colored garment with two swirls scooping around toward the inside.
High-heel shoe made of a woven black material with a zipper at back. In place of a sole, it has jagged crystals on the base, and sticking out from the heel.
Garment resembling a skeletal structure or shells.
Dress made of hundreds of pointy, rubbery tubes, attached such that they form an interesting shape, with shaggy fringes at the bottom.
Dress made of transparent plastic that flares out at the hip, made of hundreds of tiny wave-shaped forms.

Exhibition Credits

Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion is co-organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and the Groninger Museum, the Netherlands. The exhibition was curated by Sarah Schleuning, High Museum of Art, and Mark Wilson and Sue-an van der Zijpp, Groninger Museum. Support for this exhibition has generously been provided by Creative Industries Fund NL.

Carnegie Museum of Art’s presentation of Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion is supported by the Alan G. and Jane A. Lehman Foundation at the request of Ellen Lehman and Charles Kennel; the Bessie F. Anathan Charitable Trust of The Pittsburgh Foundation at the request of Ellen Lehman; The Coby Foundation, Ltd.; PNC; The Women’s Committee of Carnegie Museum of Art; Vivian and Bill Benter; Doug and Betsy Branson; UPMC and UPMC Health Plan; and CooksonPierce Wealth Management.

The CMOA presentation of Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion is organized by Rachel Delphia, The Alan G. and Jane A. Lehman Curator of Decorative Arts and Design.