#SheReviews: Iris van Herpen at QAGOMA

July 10, 2024

I had the absolute pleasure of attending the media launch of the Iris van Herpen exhibition at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA). This exhibition, celebrating one of the world’s most forward-thinking fashion designers, is open from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm daily until October 7.

“Iris van Herpen: Sculpting the Senses” features 130 of her visionary Haute Couture creations and accessories, fashioned from the most innovative materials and new technologies. It’s no wonder her extraordinary garments have been worn by icons like Lady Gaga, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Björk, Rihanna, and recently, Beyoncé, who donned the custom Heliosphere dress for her Renaissance World Tour.

Developed by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, this exhibition is a sensory feast that blends fashion, contemporary art, design, technology, and science. Curated by Dr. Cloé Pitiot and Louise Curtis from the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, in collaboration with Nina Miall and Jacinta Giles from QAGOMA, “Sculpting the Senses” showcases van Herpen’s Haute Couture garments alongside objects from natural history and works by artists like Philip Beesley, Megan Cope, Cai Guo-Qiang, Yayoi Kusama, and more.

The exhibition is thoughtfully presented across nine chapters: Water and Dreams, Sensory Sea Life, Forces Behind the Forms, Skeletal Embodiment, Growth Systems, Synaesthesia, Mythology of Fear, New Nature, and Cosmic Bloom. It even includes a recreation of van Herpen’s Amsterdam studio, a Wunderkammer (cabinet of curiosities), and a space dedicated to her fashion shows. An immersive soundscape by her partner and collaborator, Dutch sound artist Salvador Breed, ties everything together and enriches the sensory experience.

Born in 1984 in the village of Wamel, The Netherlands, Iris van Herpen grew up in harmony with nature. This connection, along with her background in classical dance, is evident in her work. After honing her skills with Alexander McQueen and Claudy Jongstra, van Herpen founded her own fashion house in Amsterdam in 2007. She has since built a stellar reputation for merging craftsmanship with cutting-edge innovation and technology, drawing inspiration from the intricacies of the natural world.

In 2010, van Herpen joined the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in Paris, and that same year, she presented her first 3D-printed garment, the Crystallization top. Just a year later, her Escapism dress was named one of Time magazine’s fifty most exciting inventions.

I thoroughly enjoyed exploring this exhibition and was in awe of Iris van Herpen’s amazing creative talent. Her ability to blend art, fashion, and technology is truly inspiring. I’ll definitely be going back to immerse myself in her visionary world once more.

For more information and to purchase tickets to “Iris van Herpen: Sculpting the Senses,” visit [www.qagoma.qld.gov.au](http://www.qagoma.qld.gov.au).