This might sound truly surreal, but yes, an exhibition dedicated to Iris Van Herpen‘s sci-fi creations has opened in my hometown, Poznań. “Alchemic Couture” is on show until the end of January in Stary Browar’s Art Station Gallery and presents some of the most striking designs coming straight from Van Herpen’s studio in Amsterdam. This exhibition shows how Iris van Herpen perceives haute couture as a transformative language, an interdisciplinary entity that emerges from the space in which innovation and craftsmanship interlace. The Iris van Herpen maison was founded in 2007 and showcases its collections bi-annually at Paris Haute Couture Week as a member of the Fédération de la Haute Couture. The brand stands for slow fashion with a multi-disciplinary approach towards collaborations with artists, architects and scientists. Each collection is a quest to venture beyond today’s definition of a garment, exploring new forms of femininity for a more meaningful, diverse and conscious fashion for the future. Organic, innovative femininity is expressed through state-of-the-art couture that embraces individuality powerfully and fearlessly. Van Herpen’s work is deeply rooted within nature – water, air and earth are elements that leave traces in the sensorial garments. The infinite properties alluding to movement such as the unbound forces and fluidity behind water or its crystalline formations are facets that flow into the designs. Through biomimicry, the maison visualises and materialises the invisible forces that shape our world, perpetuating a deep sense of organic presence. Captivated by architecture and how we embody space and inhabit sculpture, Van Herpen recognises both fashion and architecture as expressions of self, culture and community that link to the times and fabric of society. Changes of perception provoked through dichotomies between the hard and soft, structure and movement encompass the poetics of the brand’s craft. Transcending boundaries within the industry by liberating our sense of limitations, the maison is known for binding emerging technologies like elaborate 3-D printing or laser-cutting with delicate handwork such as embroidering or draping, creating a hybrid of haute couture. ‘Craftolution’, coined as the evolution of craftsmanship and the embracement of change form the core of the brand’s identity, fusing layered lightness, three-dimensionality, and undulating volume into ethereal creations. Summing up, seeing those works IRL is a mind-blowing experience.
Photos by Edward Kanarecki.