Interview: Iris Van Herpen On The Fusion Of Fashion And Technology

BY Salma Awwad / Nov 6 2019 / 15:14 PM

BAZAAR sat down with Iris Van Herpen to discuss the future of fashion in the digital age

Interview: Iris Van Herpen On The Fusion Of Fashion And Technology

Last month, BAZAAR invited the mastermind couturier, Iris Van Herpen, to Dubai for the inaugural Bazaar Capsule at World of Fashion 2019. At just 35 years old, the Dutch designer has been making waves in the fashion industry as of late with her creative, kinetic designs, seamlessly blending the worlds of fashion and art with those of science and technology.

BAZAAR sat down with the alchemist herself to unpick her multifaceted genius...

Harper's BAZAAR Arabia: You’re known for blending technology with fashion, especially with 3D printing. Where did this journey begin?

Iris Van Herpen: I like to explore both the past and the future, and I think it’s really beautiful when the two come together. I also like exploring craftsmanship, but still implementing the tools of today. Technology can really accelerate craftsmanship, and it can also create new forms of it. I really like adding to that evolution of craftsmanship in our century.

HBA: Many people see your pieces more as works of art than fashion. Is that what you’re striving towards?

IVH: Yes, I really believe that haute couture is the art of fashion. It is a place where dreams can come true, and where you can really experiment and push the boundaries of what we know today. I see fashion and art as incredibly interrelated.

HBA: Your concepts are very dream-like and otherworldly. What inspired your latest collection?

IVH: Well, fashion is art to me, but I also think it’s very connected to philosophy, science, nature and architecture, so in each collection I try to create a good balance; a symbiosis between all these different worlds. I believe that when fashion collaborates with other disciplines, you implement new knowledge into it, and that’s what really pushes the boundaries.

HBA: That’s exactly what you did with your Hypnosis collection. What was it like collaborating on that?

IVH: I felt really inspired by an American artist called Anthony Howe, who creates kinetic sculptures that are wind-powered, and have this infinite movement about them. This expression of transformation is something I explored within my own work. I used to dance ballet, and I still have that in me, so I really look for metamorphosis within the body and in the space around us. That became a really important message within the Hypnosis collection; to explore transformation within nature and also within our own bodies.

HBA: Did you implement any 3D printing with this collection?

IVH: When I started 3D printing it was very fragmented, so we had some pieces created by hand and then we had other 3D-printed pieces or dresses that were laser-cut. But today, all the technology is combined, so sometimes we might even 3D print a piece of a dress to make a mould from, but then it’s made by hand in the end. So it’s very difficult to determine now when we’re using 3D printing and when we’re not!

HBA: What's the future of fashion?

IVH: I’m really excited to be a fashion designer right now because so much is happening. The freedom within fashion is growing, and so is inclusivity, but also the open-mindedness of who we are, and the freedom of exploring new identities. I think it’s all becoming very fluid, and I love being a part of that.

HBA: What’s your advice for aspiring fashion designers in the region?

IVH: It’s really important to do it differently, to think about what you want to express and what you want to add. I feel like a lot of the fashion world is still unexplored. I see it as a moving identity, and think that the new generation wants to create a new language within fashion, and to add a new intellect to it to create new forms of craftsmanship. Don’t try to copy what has already been done before you. You should think very purely with your heart – it sounds cliché, but I do think that is the basis of creation.

HBA: You’ve been named as one of the 50 most influential people in the fashion industry. What’s the legacy you hope to leave behind?

IVH: I like looking at my work with a birds-eye view, and of course I want to give beauty to this world and to bring elegance to the women I dress. But also, when I look back at my work when I’m old, I want to have shaped the industry a little bit towards a more interesting and a more diverse place. I believe in exploring new forms of craftsmanship, and in adding to the evolution of craftsmanship from all the thousands of people before me. I hope that I can show that craftsmanship and technology are not opposites, and that they can really go hand-in-hand. Even things that people generally don’t really connect together - like science and fashion - I want to show that they can really help each other. I believe that both technology and science can inspire fashion and help it become more intelligent and sustainable.

HBA: At just 35, you’re still a young face in the industry. Is there still a lot that you want to achieve?

IVH: Definitely! I feel as though I’ve only just made my first step. There are plenty of ideas in my mind, and there’s so much to explore. I have this philosophy; for example, only 5 per cent of our oceans are explored, so 95 per cent remains unexplored. This is how I see fashion – there’s only 5 per cent that we have seen. There’s a whole world to explore, and I am eager to make little steps to help show a different perspective towards fashion.

Click here to see more images of the stunning Iris Van Herpen couture. 

From Harper's BAZAAR Arabia's November 2019 Issue