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Iris van Herpen brings ASMR on the catwalks

February 21, 2020 11:52

Dresses draped like fluorescent wings of exotic insects. With each step, the layers of the dress lift up like flaps of wings, making the models seem to float a little above the ground. Geometrical forms merge with intensive colors and unusual fabrics to exotic and futuristic dream creatures. Enchanted silence. An ode to the eye. 

Watching an Iris Van Herpen show you can never be quite sure whether the models are human or mutations out of insects and people from the future. Since completing her Fashion Design studies at Artez Institute of theArts Arnhem in 2006, she has gathered a wide range of inspiration on her travels, which she finally implemented in 2007 in her first collection"Fragile Futurity". Her aesthetic vision is unique and regularly explores the limits of what is possible. In her works, technology and traditional couture craftsmanship merge to create a unique version of the present. During her fashion design studies in the Netherlands, she gained experience with Alexander McQueen in London, Viktor & Rolf in Paris and Claudy Jongstra in Amsterdam.


Her approach to design goes beyond fashion and is described on her website as "multidisciplinary". One of the first fashion designers in the world to experiment with 3D printing for her catwalk models soon proved to be a guarantee of international recognition. Even today, the process is still an integral part of collection creation, but many other techniques also characterise van Herpen's signature. Shiny materials and the alternation between free view of the body and concealment are characteristic.Metallic silk, polyamide powder or smocked leather are naturally found alongside tulle and pleated organza in the material range. Working with lasercutters is also essential. Nature is always her important source of inspiration. Thus, her collections in the form of dreamlike fairy tales tell stories about the end of our world in various scenarios.

Today Iris van Herpen works in her Amsterdam studio. Every creation is created by the designer herself and she is considered "the most avant-garde fashion designer of our time". Her approach to fashion makes her a pioneer. She is always working on new ways of using materials and is looking for new shapes and silhouettes. Often this seems abstract, deliberately futuristic, almost a bit away from the present. Just future-oriented and with a message. This is exactly what innovative fashion needs.

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The employees in the boutiques, in the design studio and in the backstage area at fashion shows wear white lab coats, as was common in the ateliers of the great couturiers, e.g. Christian Dior, and is still common today. The fashion shows for the high-priced fashion sometimes took place in the context of the Paris Prêt-à-porter shows in unconventional locations, up to shabby surroundings (construction site, metro station, dining room of the Salvation Army etc.). The boutiques are kept in plain white and gray. Margiela originally selected unspectacular locations such as a residential area in Tokyo and did not publish the addresses of the boutiques in order to require the customer to make an effort to find the store at all. The first Margiela store opened in Tokyo in 2000 and the first European boutique was inaugurated in Brussels in 2002. In 2008, a boutique opened in a basement on the edge of Munich's Maximilianstrasse. This was followed by participation in numerous exhibitions, including "Radical Fashion", which was shown in 2001 at the V&A Museum in London. In 2010 there were 36 own stores worldwide.  In 2015 there were over 50 stores worldwide, including boutiques, that only carry the MM6 collection.

The company followed a very restrictive communication policy. The designer can neither be photographed nor interviewed. Only his creations should speak for themselves and the designs should be perceived as the overall performance of the team. That's why the team always shows up in white doctor's coats after the fashion shows - nobody should stand out.

By recycling old fashion, separating, recoloring, reversing seams and zippers, both the origin and the artificial of the art of tailoring are shown. Margiela puts together what doesn't belong together: by hand, jeans turn into skirts, old army socks become pullovers. Baptized by the press as deconstructivism, this current is defined by an abrupt collision of different materials, which at first glance appear inharmonic in the sense of conventional viewing habits. Margiela herself rejects the term "deconstructivism". He resurrected clothes in a new form, he told ELLE in 1991.

Margiela was the unofficial 7th member of "Antwerp 6", a generation of fashion designers who all completed their training at the Royal Academy of Arts between 1980-1981 and shaped the "style of the Belgians". However, it does not belong to the actual group, but it became known in a similar period.

The Japanese "Street Magazine" dedicated two special editions to "Maison Martin Margiela", which were published in book form in 1999. Nicolas Ghesquière (Balenciaga) is a big fan of Maison Martin Margiela.

In July 2014, fashion critic Suzy Menkes exposed Matthieu Blazy via Instagram as Head of Design, after which he deleted his Instagram account and changed his profile in a career network. He left the company on October 1, 2014.

To this day, Margiela pieces, especially in the fashion industry and all fashion lovers, belong to the sanctuaries in every repertoire and archive. Getting vintage pieces from other designers may be possible, but Maison Martin Marginal Archives are a real hunt and that says it all about this art.