heARTbeat: Iris van Herpen’s Fashion as Art

ColumnWhere does the line between art and fashion dissolve? You know it when you see it.

Iris van Herpen sets her fashion firmly into the realm of art as she sculpts couture dresses into wearable organisms, translucent snake skin and three-dimensional armature for the body. Her radical approach relies on her remarkable talent for combining master-craftsmanship with innovative technology, and the sensibility of an artist.

Van Herpen explains:

For me fashion is an expression of art that is very close related to me and to my body. I see it as my expression of identity combined with desire, moods and cultural setting.

Van Herpen’s inspiration comes from the extremes of nature, yes. But also from her insatiable desire to push new thinking. Her collections thrust us into her inspirations by reflecting the beauty of life with its polarity: death and regeneration.

Her site describes:

Radiation Invasion (image below) is about the invisible radiation and signals all around us that make telecommunication possible…

…while the Synesthesia collection (top image and image below) has a neurological phenomenon as its point of departure, where a mingling of sensory perceptions occurs. There are people who can ‘see’ music, for example, or can ‘taste’ colours.

Though many of us will never wear couture, van Herpen’s ideas grant us a moment to reflect on inspiration in our own choices. Wearing a coiling snake around our bodies might not express how we choose to present ourselves, yet it can certainly inspire how we might like toAnd indeed, that is the province of art, as van Herpen states:

With my work I intend to show that fashion can certainly have an added value to the world, that it is timeless and that its consumption can be less important than its beginning. Wearing clothing can create a very exciting and imperative form of self-expression.


Eco, trends, art, creativity and how they tumble through social media to shape culture fascinate EcoSalon columnist Dominique Pacheco. Her trends blog, mixingreality, speaks to these topics daily, and here at EcoSalon, she takes a weekly look at the intersection of eco and art. We call it heARTbeat.


Dominique Pacheco

Dominique Pacheco is the author of EcoSalon's weekly heARTbeat column.