Mono.kultur #47 – Iris Van Herpen


mono.kultur deals with art and culture – or rather with the people who make them happen. In the foreground is music, film, literature. And image. And architecture. And media. But behind them is a creative mind. mono.kultur features one interview per issue, no more no less. Carefully selected and designed. No distractions, no gossip, no trendscouting. Instead we offer opinions, experiences, lives.

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Iris Van Herpen: The Unknownness Of Everything

“We’re living in the alchemist’s dream right now.”

‘Haute couture’s chief scientist’, ‘sorceress of style’, ‘avant-garde technologist’ are just some of the terms the press have used to describe the extraordinary Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen. Having launched her eponymous label just over a decade ago, Iris van Herpen soon gained widespread attention for her futuristic, otherworldly creations. Whether developing 3D printed dresses, materials grown by the forces of magnetism, or clothes mimicking the different states of water: her collections frequently combine cutting-edge technologies with traditional craftsmanship, fusing artistry with sheer inventiveness. The results are, quite simply, spectacular.

Iris van Herpen’s designs are fueled by her curiosity beyond fashion, drawing from disciplines like architecture, science, and technology. She has worked with numerous specialists and artists, created costumes for the Paris Opera, and exhibited her work at institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. She developed dresses for Tilda Swinton, Solange, and Björk, while also conversing with scientists at CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, on her constant quest to develop new materials. It is an open-ended approach of collaboration and experiment, of channeling different influences and disciplines into a vision that is wide open and singular all at the same time.

In a thrilling and expansive conversation with mono.kultur, Iris van Herpen talked about fashion as a form of art, the inspirations of lucid dreaming, and the exquisite sensation of skydiving.

The issue presents a small retrospective of a decade of Iris van Herpen’s designs with images by some of the luminaries of contemporary fashion photography, including Inez & Vinoodh, Juergen Teller, Ellen von Unwerth, and Nick Knight. And since everything is related, we let ourselves be inspired by Iris’ multi-dimensional design practice, manipulating the very paper the issue is printed on, with each page cut away to reveal slivers of what is lying underneath.

Interview by Charmaine Li / Photography by Mathieu Cesar; Robert Clark; Bryan Huynh; Inez & Vinoodh; ioulex; Nick Knight; Luigi & Iango; Jean-Baptiste Mondino; Armin Morbach; Petrovsky & Ramone; Warren du Preez & Nick Thornton Jones; Ronald Stoops; Emma Summerton; Sølve Sundsbø; Juergen Teller; Ellen von Unwerth; Duy Vo; Michel Zoeter
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