Celebrity Designer Iris van Herpen Exhibit Hits the ROM

This weekend, Torontonians will have the opportunity to see what fashion looks like when it transcends garments.

Beginning Saturday, June 2nd and running until October 8th, the ROM debuts “Transforming Fashion” – a collaborative exhibit between Dutch designer Iris an Herpen and Canadian architect Philip Beesley. It is the only Canadian stop, and the last on the two year tour. A favourite of icons like Beyonce and Lady Gaga, Iris van Herpen’s 3D printed dresses were named one of the 50 Best Inventions by TIME in 2011. If you watched any of the 2018 Met Gala’s red carpet coverage, you might recognize her work donning Solange Knowles.

Iris has been described by those who critique her work as “futuristic” or resembling something that would come out of a science fiction novel. But as StyleZeitgeist Creative Director Eugene Rabkin describes, in her work there is science but no fiction. She draws inspiration from nature, and the creativity of artists and architects, “Everything that I make is here and now.” says Iris, “I’m inspired by impossibility around me but nothing I make is impossible. I’m connected more to today than the future and I hope it inspires people to think of today as a different world.” The exhibition will showcase one-of-a-kind pieces from 15 of her collections spanning 2008 to 2015. She’s celebrated by creatives across all industries for her multi-disciplinary approach to fashion and collaboration to create new techniques and materials for her designs.

A dress from the designer’s “Areiform” collection, which was inspired by the anatomy of air, was commissioned by the ROM especially for the exhibit. Iris’s process is unconventional – she works without sketches and lets the process of creating the materials she uses in her designs guide her to the finished product. This means that the collections form themselves through the process of creation. “Essentially, we didn’t know what we were buying. We were buying air”, said ROM curator Dr. Alexandra Palmer in a statement introducing the collection Wednesday night. Their purchase (and the focal point of the exhibit) is a true work of art made from 300 metal steel cut domes which required 240 hours to hand weave onto a bodice.


Pieces like the one above show how the designer combines new world science with old world techniques to create pieces that are at once futuristic and timeless. For anyone interested in fashion, technology, and what the future of dress might look like, this is an exhibit not to be missed.

For more information on how to catch this exhibit click here.