What do Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and Bjork all have in common? All of these musicians have worn cutting-edge designs by internationally acclaimed Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen.

Through January 15 at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, visitors can experience 45 haute couture outfits selected from 15 of van Herpen's collections designed from 2008 through 2015. The exhibition, Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion, includes 18 pieces from the designer's most recent lines, a selection of her shoe designs and 27 works from her solo exhibition at the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands.

Mannequin Fashion Show at Grand Rapids Art Museum
Photo courtesy of GRAM.

Trailblazing Fashion

Van Herpen achieved her renowned reputation from her combination of traditional craftsmanship and futuristic, innovative techniques, including some of the first examples of 3-D-printed fashion. Many of her pieces are also accentuated with unique materials, such as umbrella ribs and synthetic boat rigging.

Elizabeth Payne, GRAM Senior Communications Coordinator, said van Herpen is a trailblazer in her industry.

"Iris van Herpen stands at the vanguard of her industry, creating at the nexus of design, technology, fashion and science," said Payne. Transforming Fashion beautifully illustrates the artistry of great design and the power of creativity to drive innovation."

Mannequin Fashion Show at Grand Rapids Art Museum
Photo courtesy of GRAM.

For those looking to enhance their Transforming Fashion experience, the GRAM offers a hands-on "touch material" portion of the exhibition. The section encourages visitors to explore some of the more unusual materials van Herpen includes in her designs, such as translucent stainless steel fabric and structures made from children's umbrellas.
 

Mannequin Fashion Show at Grand Rapids Art Museum
Photo courtesy of GRAM.

Learn More with Tours, Workshops and Lectures

If visitors appreciate a more guided experience, drop-in tours are available from 1-2 p.m. on December 10, 20, 27 and 29, and January 14. Special drop-in tours on December 4, 18, and January 15 will be preceded by concerts featuring classical music.

Visitors can also wear the designer's hat during hands-on, interactive Drop-In Studio workshops where guests can learn how to make haute couture accessories, sculptures made from up-cycled materials (perfect for holiday gifts), or even textile pouches and puppets. Drop-In Studio sessions will take place Saturdays in December from 1-4 p.m., December 27-30 from 1-4 p.m., and Saturdays in January from 1-4 p.m.

Transforming Fashion has also been supplemented with the Iris van Herpen Lecture Series. "Iris van Herpen: Inspired by History, Borrowing from the Past," presented by Suzanne Eberle, professor of art history and program chair at Kendall College of Art and Design, will take place Saturday, December 10, from 2-3 p.m. Ken Krayer, Design West Michigan executive director, will present "Dutch Design: Culture in Context" on Thursday, January 12, from 7-8 p.m.

World-Renown Designs, Now in Grand Rapids

Shortly after graduating from the ArtEZ Institute of the Arts in the Netherlands, van Herpen produced her first collection in 2007. In 2012, she became a member of the exclusive Chambre Syndicale de Huate Couture, where her work regularly appears in biannual Paris runway shows. Van Herpen's designs have also made appearances on runways in Amsterdam and London, and in the galleries of museums from Paris to New York. Transforming Fashion at the GRAM marks the first time van Herpen's work has appeared in the Midwest.

"Van Herpen embodies the collaboration of the arts and sciences, and, with its mission of connecting people through art, creativity and design, GRAM is thrilled to share this exhibition with Grand Rapids," said Payne. "With designs from 15 of van Herpen's collections on display, we invite our visitors to come and enjoy each of the works and find one they have a personal connection to."

Mannequin Fashion Show at Grand Rapids Art Museum
Photo courtesy GRAM

Maria TenHave-Chapman, a sophomore majoring in fashion studies at Kendall College of Art and Design, said that while her two favorite collections featured in the exhibit are "Crystallization" and "Capriole Couture," she found van Herpen's thought process to be the most inspirational aspect of the exhibit.

"Every collection is based out of a very personal and genuine place. 'Crystallization,' for example, was designed with the concept of water crystallizing into ice, and 'Capriole Couture' is a collection designed around the feelings van Herpen experienced while sky diving," said TenHave-Chapman. "It's inspiring to see how those concepts develop into actual garments or to see how a feeling translates into an aesthetic. I think it's unbelievable that this collection is here in Grand Rapids."

For more details about Transforming Fashion and a complete list of related events, visit the Grand Rapids Art Museum website.