Virtual Design Festival

"The Infinity dress is the most difficult I have ever made" says Iris van Herpen

In the last of our three exclusive video interviews for Virtual Design Festival, Iris van Herpen describes how she created the optical illusions in her Hypnosis collection, which includes a dress the Dutch fashion designer describes as her most complicated yet. 

Van Herpen is known for her elaborate haute couture fashion. For her Fall 2019 Hypnosis collection, presented at Élysée Montmatre in Paris during the city's fashion week, she produced dresses made from tens of thousands of rippling pieces of fabric, each cut to just 0.8 millimetres wide.

"What I hoped is that you really couldn't see where the garment begins and where the skin ends," she said in the video.

Iris van Herpen "hopes you can't see where her garments begin and the skin ends" 
For her Fall 2019 collection, Iris van Herpen created dresses that blur the lines between the skin and the garment

Van Herpen describes the collection, which she developed together with architect and long-time collaborator Philip Beesley, as a series of optical illusions.

"The patterns are cut so finely that it moves faster than your eye can follow," she said. "So it has a really delicate interaction with tiny movements of the body and creates an optical illusion when you walk in it."

Iris van Herpen "hopes you can't see where her garments begin and the skin ends" 
The designer collaborated with American sculptor Anthony Howe on a kinetic sculpture for the show

Van Herpen enlisted American sculptor Anthony Howe to create a kinetic sculpture for the runway show entitled Omniverse, which also plays with optical illusion.

"His sculptures create an optical illusion that is quite infinite and that was also the inspiration behind that collection," she said.

Constantly moving, the sculpture was made from multiple metal stems that protrude from a central circular structure that the models passed through as they walked the runway.

The stems featured layers of round discs covered in silk, which slowly rotated, resulting in a pulsating visual trick.

"When they move you can't really tell whether they go forward or backwards," Van Herpen explained. "The whole sculpture starts breathing. It's a continuous expansion and contraction."

Iris van Herpen "hopes you can't see where her garments begin and the skin ends" 
The Infinity Dress was also made in collaboration with Howe and mirrored the essence of the Omniverse sculpture

Mirroring the look of the Omniverse sculpture, Van Herpen and Howe also collaborated on one of the show's statement pieces, titled the Infinity dress.

"I think it's the most difficult dress we ever made," Van Herpen stated.

A white dress covered with a layer of feathers was surrounded by a revolving aluminium and stainless steel skeleton embroidered with white feathers, powered by a mechanism in the back of the dress.

"I wanted to created that balance where nature always needs to be in dialogue with the technology," van Herpen said.

This video was filmed by Dezeen at Van Herpen's Amsterdam atelier. It is the third and final video in a series exploring the pioneering fashion designer's work, for Virtual Design Week.

About Virtual Design Festival

Virtual Design Festival, the world's first digital design festival, runs until 30 June 2020. It is a platform that will bring the architecture and design world together to celebrate the culture and commerce of our industry, and explore how it can adapt and respond to extraordinary circumstances.

VDF will host a rolling programme of online talks, lectures, movies, product launches and more, complementing and supporting fairs and festivals around the world that have had to be postponed or cancelled and it will provide a platform for design businesses, so they can, in turn, support their supply chains.

Find out more here or email [email protected] for details or to join our mailing list.