A Major Retrospective Celebrates Iris van Herpen’s Mesmerizing Designs at the Intersection of Art, Fashion, and Science


#Iris van Herpen

December 7, 2023

Grace Ebert

Carla van de Puttelaar for Iris van Herpen, various collections (2020). All images courtesy of Musée des Arts Décoratifs, shared with permission

Water, skeletons, and the origins of life usher in a major retrospective of the exquisite, otherworldly garments of Iris van Herpen (previously). On view now at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Sculpting the Senses is a celebration of the Dutch designer’s groundbreaking contributions to fashion, particularly her collaborative sensibilities and interest in working across art and science.

Van Herpen founded her eponymous brand in 2007 and has since created a vast oeuvre embracing the beauty of the natural world. Her “Arachne bustier,” part of the Meta Morphism collection, for example, features a sculptural form evocative of wings atop a gossamer bodice. Other works are similarly shapely, like those in Hypnosis, which feature bulbous skirts and mind-bending patterns that sway with mesmerizing movement.

“Dynamic tension, fluidity, delicacy, and complexity, as well as poetry and philosophy: these are the main elements of the dialogues she establishes between body and clothing, which allow her to convey a new, rich, enthusiastic perspective on the world to come,” writes curator Cloé Pitiot.

In addition to van Herpen’s designs, the exhibition also includes works by artists like Casey Curran, Rogan Brown, and Janaina Mello Landini, who have either inspired or collaborated with the designer over the years.

Sculpting the Senses is on view through April 28 in Paris. Pick up the accompanying monograph, which contains a forward by Tilda Swinton, from Bookshop.


a model wears a gown with an organic pattern while branch like forms emerge around her

“Epicycle” dress, ‘Hypnosis’ collection (2019), glass organza, crepe, PetG, mylar. Image © Dominique Maitre

a black and white photo of a woman wearing an organic gown with cut outs

Luigi and Iango for Iris van Herpen, “Skeleton Dress,” in collaboration with Isaie Bloch, ‘Capriole Collection’ (2020)

Left: “Suminagashi” dress, ‘Hypnosis’ collection (2019), polyurethane, mylar, tulle. Image © Dominique Maitre. Right: “Epicycle” dress, ‘Hypnosis’ collection (2019), glass organza, crepe, PetG, mylar. Image © Dominique Maitre

a model wears a yellow and black gown that poofs out

Iris van Herpen in collaboration with Perry Hall, “Fractal Flows” dress, ‘Sensory Seas’ collection (2020), glass organza, Komon Kobo, tulle. Image © Dominique Maitre

a model wears a skeletal gown that appears like wings and a ribbed bodies. a similarly organic and corporeal sculpture in white and gold towers over her to the left

“Arachne bustier,” ‘Meta Morphism’ collection (2022), polyester silk, mylar, tulle, Swarovski crystals, embroidery thread, stainless steel. Image © Dominique Maitre

left: a model wears a pink and white gown that billows and spikes around her body. right: two models touch faces and wear sweeping blue gowns

David Uzochukwu for Iris van Herpen, “Hydrozoa Dress,” ‘Sensory Seas’ collection'(2020). Right: David Uzochukwu for Iris van Herpen, “Sensory Seas Dress” and “Nautiloid Dress,” ‘Sensory Seas’ collection (2020)

#Iris van Herpen


Do stories and artists like this matter to you? Become a Colossal Member today and support independent arts publishing for as little as $5 per month. You’ll connect with a community of like-minded readers who are passionate about contemporary art, read articles and newsletters ad-free, sustain our interview series, get discounts and early access to our limited-edition print releases, and much more. Join now!