“Be fearless, be as stubborn as you can be, work as hard as you can, don’t let details distract from your goal.”
That’s the advice of Iris van Herpen to young designers and she’s in a position to dish it out. After winning the prestigious ANDAM award, van Herpen is crossing another milestone: the first American exhibition of her work. Earlier this week, her “Transforming Fashion” opened at the High Museum in Atlanta.
“It has been a long process in which I was very involved,” she says. “I remember visiting the High in 2013 and seeing the huge amount of space that was dedicated to the exhibition. It became ‘real’ to me at that moment.”
For two years, Van Herpen worked with her atelier to repair and bring 45 couture dresses from each of her 15 collections to be shown in the exhibit.
“Some looks have a special story inside them,” she says. “Like the skeleton dress that reminds me of the first time I jumped out of an airplane in Australia, or the Moon dress that reminds me of the intense working process with the artist Jolan van der Wiel. Or the Water dress that later formed the inspiration to throw buckets of black water to a naked Daphne Guinness.”
The 31-year-old Dutch designer studied at the Artez Instutute of the Arts Arnheim and cut her teeth working under Alexander McQueen and Claudy Jongstra, launching her own line just one year after graduation.
In 2011, she became the youngest member to join the official calendar of Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week. “My first Couture show in Paris was a very important moment that I will never forget,” she recalls. “My continuing collaborations with Bjork, Benjamin Millepied, and Philip Beesley are also very important to me—and of course the ANDAM Award.” (She won the $342,000 prize in 2014, beating the likes of Fausto Puglisi and Jean-Paul Lespagnard.)
As is always the case with retrospective exhibitions, the question of what’s next is inevitable. But in that cool Dutch way, she shrugs when asked. “I live by the moment, really,” she says.
Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion is on view through May 15, 2016 at the High Museum of Art, 1280 Peachtree Street, Atlanta; 404.733.4444.