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Architecture & Iris Van Herpen's Fashion

I love Bjork. From the moment I saw her video Human Behaviour on MTV’s 120 Minutes way back in 1993, I was hooked. (And yes, I am listening to Bjork as I write this.) She offers a raw and unique voice to a whimsical and childlike woman who pushes boundaries, experiments and takes risks. And she’s always been known for her quirky fashion sense. No one will ever forget the swan dress. But what most people overlook is that before Lady Gaga, Bjork was Alexander McQueen’s muse. He dressed her on several occasions, including MTV’s Fashion Rocks, at which she wore a custom McQueen gown, and he encrusted her entire face in crystals. She sang Joga from her Homogenic album.

The reason I’m writing about Bjork is because if it weren’t for her, I would have never known about Iris Van Herpen. Van Herpen is a Dutch experimental fashion designer who interned for McQueen, and in 2007 started her own fashion line. But it wasn’t until 2012 when Bjork donned a Van Herpen dress on the cover of the Biophilia that the fashion designer was brought to my attention. Bjork went on to wear several Van Herpen dresses during the promotional tour of Biophilia.

Van Herpen is known for her technically innovative and intricate 3D designs and unusual use of materials. She’s been noted to take her inspirational cues from other art forms, and her designs are structural, rigid and beautiful, and that brings me to another reason why I love her work. Much of her work mimics architecture. Upon seeing her work, I was immediately reminded of a few of the greatest modern architects of our time.

Take a look for yourself (from left to right) at the selection of Van Herpen’s designs and examples of work by architects who may have inspired her.

Van Herpen’s futuristic top from the Crystallization collection echoes the symmetrical curves of Zaha Hadid’s conceptual plans for Changsha Meixihu International Culture & Art Centre in China. The impossible rigid curves of Van Herpen’s gown from the Escapism Couture collection captures and reflects light just like Frank Gehry’s titanium structures do. This one is at Bard College in Upstate New York. The form of this dress from the Micro collection is reminiscent of Spanish designer Antoni Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain. The form of this top from the Capriole Couture collection mimics Santiago Calatrava’s many bird-shaped structures, including the new World Trade Center transportation hub in lower Manhattan.

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