Iris van Herpen is a truly remarkable figure in the fashion industry. She founded her eponymous brand back in 2007 and has since become renowned for her breathtaking creations in haute couture. What sets her apart is her unwavering passion for technology and innovation, which drives her to create unique designs that defy trends and market demands. With her atelier in Amsterdam, which is predominantly staffed by women, van Herpen’s custom-made garments are highly sought after by clients from all over the globe.

Recently, van Herpen presented her latest collection at Paris Haute Couture Week. This collection, titled “Carte Blanche,” was a collaboration with artist and dancer Julie Gautier. Female empowerment has always been a central theme in van Herpen’s work, and this collaboration allowed her to delve deeper into that theme. The collection was presented through a mesmerizing underwater short film, showcasing flowing nymph-like designs. Working with Gautier, a versatile artist capable of various disciplines, was a natural fit for van Herpen. Their collaboration involved test shoots and the creation of choreography that captured the fluidity of water.

When asked about presenting her collection in a video format, van Herpen expressed her love for the freedom to adapt her presentations based on the specific needs of each concept or project. While she still enjoys organizing fashion shows, she firmly believes in acting independently and freely, without being restricted by a specific format or boundaries. She also voiced her concerns about the strict rules in the fashion industry and how they sometimes stifle creativity. Breaking down these boundaries and creating with flexibility is, for her, the ultimate expression of freedom.

As a woman challenging the system with her unconventional ideas, van Herpen is acutely aware of the male-dominated nature of the fashion industry. She emphasizes the importance of women in creative management positions and the need for the industry to embrace femininity as created by women. Her brand, predominantly comprising women, is a testament to her belief in the power of female teams.

Moreover, van Herpen strongly believes that fashion should address feminism and female empowerment by granting women the positions they deserve. Supporting female designers and incorporating women in teams is crucial for bringing about social change within the industry. It is also essential to highlight issues and injustices, to understand the broader impact of the messages conveyed through fashion.

Discussing her creative perspective on female empowerment, van Herpen finds strength in collaboration and the sharing of creativity. She admires her colleagues and believes that looking up to them and learning from their work leads to the creation of something greater. Collaborating with other women, for her, is the purest and most meaningful form of empowerment.

Designing for underwater environments presents unique challenges for van Herpen. Fabrics react differently depending on the depth and body type, causing the garments to either float or sink. Overcoming these challenges required placing a stage underwater and ensuring that the delicate yet powerful appearance of the garments was maintained.

While some independent designers launch ready-to-wear lines to finance their creative collections, van Herpen believes that is not the only path to success. She briefly worked on a ready-to-wear line after winning the l’Andam prize in 2014 but found that it didn’t align with her devotion to craftsmanship and innovation. The mindset and priorities of factories didn’t match her commitment to quality and longevity. Van Herpen sees success as being true to oneself and what one believes in, and she firmly believes that haute couture can be a successful business.

Van Herpen’s clients come from various genders and age ranges. They are individuals who are passionate about fashion, craftsmanship, and innovation. Her clients understand and appreciate the time and effort put into creating each garment, recognizing them as works of art meant to be cherished for generations to come.

Iris van Herpen’s perspective on the role of women in the fashion industry and the business potential of haute couture is truly inspiring. As a female designer, she is breaking down boundaries and challenging the status quo. Her unique vision and unwavering dedication to craftsmanship and innovation have established her as a leader in the industry. With her latest collection and collaboration with Julie Gautier, van Herpen continues to push the boundaries of creativity in fashion.

Useful links:
1. Iris van Herpen Official Website
2. Business of Fashion