The Year of the Innovative Woman Continues through 2016 at GRAM

Dutch fashion designer, Iris van Herpen, pushes fashion to the limit with original, cutting-edge designs, some previously donned by a few of the biggest names in pop culture, including Lady Gaga, Bjork, and Beyonce. The Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion exhibition opens at the Grand Rapids Art Museum Sunday, October 23.


The unique two-floor showing came about as a collaboration between the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia and the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands. It features 45 haute couture outfits carefully selected from 15 of van Herpen’s collections, designed from 2008 through 2015, 18 pieces from her most modern lines, eight pairs of original shoe designs and 27 pieces from her solo exhibition at the Groninger Museum.

Ron Platt, Chief Curator at the Grand Rapids Art Museum and Director & CEO of the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Dana Friis-Hansen.

A pioneer of 3-D printed works for the runway, van Herpen draws inspiration for her futuristic pieces from unconventional sources such as crows, radiation waves, natural elements and microorganisms. She creates a beautiful tension between craftsmanship and technology in her free-flowing and multi-textured outfits through collaboration with artists as well as scientists.


Utilizing her experience with ballet dancing, van Herpen infuses body movement in her pieces. She engages in choreographing, planning out and producing fashion shows as performance art.

Iris Van Herpen
Iris Van Herpen (right) at GRAM during a media tour.

“We’re seeing in this moment, in this exhibition, some amazing steps forward with thinking about design and with thinking about materials and big ideas,” Director and CEO of the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Dana Friis-Hansen said.

Visitors will have an opportunity to get hands-on with van Herpen’s innovative materials. Six different material samples used in some of her designs will be available to physically touch, hold and feel, delivering a first-hand experience like no other. Many of Van Herpen’s materials are the result of close collaboration with architects, artists, and engineers who bring their insight to the technology behind van Herpen’s ground-breaking visions.


“I’m excited to be able to bring this interdisciplinary project to West Michigan,” Chief Curator at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Ron Platt said. “I think it’s astounding as fashion, but I think the way that it is both an intersection of fashion, design, technology and material innovation is pretty mind-blowing.”

One the first floor of GRAM, visitors will have a chance to find out which of van Herpen’s fashion collections fits their own personality by taking a short quiz.

Step into the revolutionary world of design and immerse yourself with the self-expression and emotional influence among the van Herpen designs spread generously throughout the museum.


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