Apr 25, 2016


On Saturday I visited the HIGH MUSEUM in Atlanta and I was pleasantly surprised by a fashion exhibit, works of IRIS VAN HERPEN

I didn't know anything about this artist, designer prior to going to the HIGH and I was quite taken by her work.  I am so far removed from anything "fashion", I am the poster girl for SKETCHERS and jeans, or shorts or on a cold day, sweats. I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy the FASHION TRANSFORMATION exhibit, I was quite surprised. 

The HIGH always does a great job of displaying the works or collections. The Ven Herpen exhibit is in the Anne Cox Chambers Wing, apart from the main museum building.  The Van Herpen exhibit is visible from the museum courtyard as you approach the main entrance, so immediately there was curiosity. 

Through the glass panes, much like window shopping, I could see the fiberglass mannequins standing tall, at attention, dressed in art, dressed in interpretations of materials, in dream, in imagination, and yes fashion. I

 was excited that there was such a varied selection at the HIGH: the Van Herpen exhibit, along with The Basquiat Notebooks and the photography and art of Vic Muniz.  

This was one of my favorites, the piece reminded of life in the sea, akin to sea algae or sea fans that grow in reefs.  The piece was light, transparent, delicate. 

A group of young students from SCAD Atlanta, (Savannah College of Art & Design) all were photographing this mannequin and dress, all were commenting that Lady Gaga had worn this or something similar to dress to a music industry event. 

The students were all excited, the group of 5 or 6, all of them with iPhones, all commenting, reviewing, raising their phones to take photos, all explaining to each other the hallmarks of this piece. One of them said... ALL OF HER WORK IS COLD.  I certainly did not get that feeling. 

I was taken by the designers imagination, the wonder and possibilities of materials used: cloth, plastics, many different types and textures of metals, film like the kind in a roll of 35 MM, one dress was completely made of this.  She also created, employed and allowed for so many different shapes and weights.  

My understanding is that all these pieces are conceptual and representative of a theme or idea for her shows.  And that there is actually clothing that you can buy and wear with the IRIS VAN HERPEN label.  A quick search on Google, I was able to find her line selling pieces ranging from $400 for a simple blouse to $3000 and $4000 for a dress. 

This was my least favorite as a dress or article of clothing. 

Who wears chickens? 

At the same time the material was a soft, spaghetti like plastic and it appeared to be comfortable.  As a work of art, I was taken by this, so much going on in that piece.  Bird skulls juxtaposed with the naked bald head of the mannequin, the company available in the universe, man, nature. The cover of dress vs. the cover of feathers, vs. the miracle of human skin.   

I could go on and on, one of the many reasons I love art, imagination, creating ! 

I called this the "bubbles dress". I was reminded of a tall glass of cold, crisp carbonated water. I wanted the color of the fabric to be a light metallic blue, or a perfect sea foam green - perhaps the contrast of black and white or black and transparent plastic, so the viewer imagines and creates possibilities. 

I watched an interview with IRIS VAN HERPEN, she is asked of her earliest memory of fashion, clothing as fashion... and I loved her answer.... She was introduced to "special clothing" by her Grandma ! ! !  You can watch the interview by clicking here.