Born in 1984 in the Netherlands, the couturier Iris van Herpen’s first passion was dance. It was at the Art Institute Arnheim ArtEZ that she discovered a vocation for fashion. Her talent was such that shortly after graduating she began working with Alexander McQueen. By 2011, she was designing dresses for Bjork, and TIME magazine considered one of her dresses amongst the 50 best inventions of the year. In 2014, she received the prestigious ANDAM Fashion Award Grand Prize.
This year, she partners with Swarovski to launch the latest in its Designer Edition series, the outstanding Growing Crystal Pendants, along with the extraordinary new crystal-tipped 3D Studs that were inspired by the designer.
Swarovski has a proud heritage of innovative collaboration with leading artists and designers going all the way back to its foundation in 1895. So it recognized a like mind in visionary couturier Iris van Herpen, whose interdisciplinary research and collaborative approach to womenswear is a deliberate attempt to revolutionize its form.
“I would characterize my designs as ‘New Couture’,” says van Herpen. “I’m interested in creating a new aesthetic vision by inventing new forms and methods of expression that rely on the combination of both traditional and radical material selection, as well as new thinking about garment construction.”
Her work includes collaborations with cutting-edge creatives as diverse as architect Rem Koolhaas, photographer Nick Knight, and actress Tilda Swinton. She has also created garments using laser cutting, injection molding, handmade 3D structures, hard plastics, and even magnetics. In her Amsterdam studio, she conjures fantastical fashion collections inspired by nanotechnology, the biomimetic sciences, and contemporary architecture.
It is a way of working that has established her as one of fashion’s few truly experimental voices, her sculpted and constructed creations displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, as well as on the runway.
Now she has partnered with Swarovski to bring her unique vision to Growing Crystal, the latest in the Designer Edition series, together with the unique new 3D Studs that she has inspired. “I’m motivated by the strength, resilience and ingenuity of the natural world,” says the experimentalist.
It’s an inspiration reflected in Growing Crystal’s collection of Pendants, which she created as a meditation on how crystals appear in their organic form. Look at her Rhombus Pendant and Rectangle Pendant and you’ll see the cross-section of a druse reflected in their crystalline cavities. Examine them even more closely and you’ll find that up to 500 hand-embedded double cones have been used to create the stunning effect.