Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion

Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion

The often touted question of whether fashion is an art can be put to rest after viewing the Iris van Herpen exhibit at the ROM (on view until October 8, 2018). Possibly not wearable art (or at least not for most of us) but certainly mind bending. 

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The dresses take the breath away by their provocative audacity, sculptural architecture, technological prowess and femininity.

VAN HERPEN appropriates materials and technologies unrelated to garment making and manages to tame them into body-fitting sculptures. We are not talking science fiction but scientific exploration which is her source of inspiration. What interests van Herpen is to create sui generis objets d'art to cover the body. She is an outlier of the fashion world, a beacon of independance and creativity. 

All aspects of her work is counter intuitive, including her tools: stainless steel threads, blow torch, hot air guns, metal pliers, Tesla coils can be found in her sewing box. 

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Stark, industrial and at times forbidding, the silhouette is never hostile.

The "Voltage" series with its sharp angles or carnivorous plant-like lace, the "Chemical Crows" outfit's spikes, the "Caprioles" dress sharp edges, somehow manage to display a certain softness that makes them irresistible.

The minimalist scenography perfectly reflects and respects the art. Faceless body forms on pedestals in a large cavernous room enlivened only by a backdrop video. The only glamorous moment being the "Hybrid Holism" dress full of old world mystery even though its inspiration is a futuristic view of the world where objects would exist independently of humanity. 

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No jewelry is required to embellish the silhouette.

The dresses would not tolerate it.

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Comprising more than 55,000 pieces, from across cultures and millennia, the ROM's Fashion & Textiles collection is the third largest in the world. To build on this leadership position, the ROM envisions a new hub for shcolarship and programmin in Fashion & Textiles at the museum. So stay tuned if you are a fashion as art lover. 

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