Melds the tra­di­tional and high-tech

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Draw­ing in­spi­ra­tion from sources in­clud­ing art, ar­chi­tec­ture, the move­ment of the hu­man body and sci­ence, Iris van Her­pen cre­ates cut­ting-edge fash­ion us­ing a com­bi­na­tion of tra­di­tional crafts­man­ship and in­no­va­tive tech­nol­ogy. And though van Her­pen’s name may not be well-known to the av­er­age fash­ion-lov­ing con­sumer, fash­ion-for­ward singers like Lady Gaga, Bjork and Bey­once have all worn her cre­ations.

“Iris van Her­pen: Trans­form­ing Fash­ion,” a new ex­hi­bi­tion open­ing Satur­day at At­lanta’s High Mu­seum of Art, fea­tures 45 pieces pulled from 15 of the Dutch artist’s col­lec­tions de­signed be­tween 2008 and this year. Or­ga­nized chrono­log­i­cally, it gives vis­i­tors insight into the evo­lu­tion of the young de­signer’s ca­reer.

Many of the cou­ture pieces look like cos­tumes from a fu­tur­is­tic sci­ence fic­tion movie, with dra­matic flour­ishes cre­ated from un­ex­pected ma­te­ri­als and con­trast­ing tex­tures.

The pieces are dis­played on cus­tom man­nequins in such a way that vis­i­tors can walk around and see them from ev­ery an­gle be­cause they are as much sculp­ture as cloth­ing, said High cu­ra­tor of dec­o­ra­tive arts and de­sign Sarah Sch­le­un­ing. Van Her­pen, 31, said peo­ple some­times as­sume she is in­spired by tech­nol­ogy, but that is not the case. Rather she sees tech­nol­ogy as a tool to help her achieve the phys­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tion of ideas in her head, she said.

“Of­ten my in­spi­ra­tion doesn’t come from some­thing vis­ual,” she said. “Of­ten I’m in­spired by things that are in­vis­i­ble to us, like mag­netic mo­tion or elec­tric­ity.” Her cre­ative process of­ten in­cludes col­lab­o­ra­tions with other artists, de­sign­ers, ar­chi­tects and sci­en­tists. Once she has an idea in her head she ex­per­i­ments to see whether it can best be ex­e­cuted by hand or us­ing more high-tech meth­ods, like 3-D print­ing.

The first 3-D printed piece she sent down a run­way was from a col­lec­tion called Crys­tal­liza­tion in July 2010 and was in­spired by the way lime­stone de­posits har­den. The cream-col­ored polyamide ma­te­rial ex­tends out from the torso in ridged loops, and thin strips of acrylic stick out from the waist of a match­ing short leather skirt in a way that mim­ics wa­ter squirt­ing out from a foun­tain.

In the same col­lec­tion is a wa­ter-in­spired dress. A sim­ple iri­des­cent beige leather sheath with col­umns of ruf­fles and draped in me­tal chains is ac­cented by a gi­ant plas­tic col­lar that makes it look as if some­one came up and threw a bucket of wa­ter on the model and that splash is frozen in time. One of the most re­mark­able pieces in the ex­hi­bi­tion, which the High re­cently ac­quired, is from van Her­pen’s spring 2015 col­lec­tion, Mag­netic Mo­tion. It looks like a del­i­cately carved ice sculp­ture. The struc­tures are so fine and del­i­cate that the tech­ni­cians at the com­pany that printed it for her ini­tially didn’t think it would be pos­si­ble to cre­ate with a 3-D prin­ter us­ing the trans­par­ent resin she wanted.

The re­sult is a stun­ning short strap­less dress that hinges open along one side and snaps onto the model. Like many of the other pieces in the ex­hi­bi­tion, it’s hard to imag­ine how it looks on a hu­man body. Luck­ily, a video in a side gallery show­cases six of her run­way shows so vis­i­tors can see the out­fits on mod­els and watch the ex­tra­or­di­nary way they move.

Made from ma­te­ri­als that in­clude wo­ven me­tal gauze, the me­tal ribs of chil­dren’s um­brel­las, leather, laser-cut acrylic, foil, stones, cot­ton and more, the dresses scream to be touched, and the High is happy to oblige. There are sam­ples of six ma­te­ri­als from out­fits in the ex­hi­bi­tion, in­clud­ing the ice dress and wa­ter dress, both of which are made from hard, un­for­giv­ing plas­tic, as well as a rub­ber ma­te­rial that feels like the skin of a Hal­loween mask, a fine wire mesh that is sur­pris­ingly flex­i­ble and a mat of fas­tened-to­gether um­brella ribs. The show de­buts Satur­day at the High, where it ends May 15, and then will travel to the Grand Rapids Art Mu­seum in Michi­gan (fall 2016), the Dal­las Mu­seum of Art in Texas (spring 2017), the Cincin­nati Mu­seum of Art in Ohio (fall 2017) and the Phoenix Art Mu­seum in Ari­zona (spring 2018). — AP

Dresses from the Re­fin­ery Smoke col­lec­tion by de­signer Iris van Her­pen are dis­played at the High Mu­seum’s new ex­hibit, “Iris van Her­pen: Trans­form­ing Fash­ion” in At­lanta. — AP pho­tos

De­signer Iris van Her­pen poses for a photo at the High Mu­seum.

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