Iris van Herpen’s Shift Souls – Canvas of Chemistry at Paris Fashion Week


Presenting her latest Couture Show titled ‘Shift Soul’, Dutch designer Iris van Herpen stuns yet again with her visionary aesthetic, her research in new materials and technologies and the mastery to handcraft impeccable pieces that we, all, gladly, call ‘art’.

“For ‘Shift Souls’ I looked at the evolution of the human shape, its idealization through time and the hybridization of the female forms within mythology. Specially the imagination and the fluidity within identity change in Japanese mythology gave me the inspiration to explore the deeper meaning of identity and how immaterial and mutable it can become within the current coalescence of our digital bodies.”

— Iris van Herpen

This is the process as described by the designer herself, six months of exploration and craftsmanship inspired by early examples of celestial cartography, a study of the  human/anima hybrids called ‘Cybrids’ and how their advent is closer to us than we think.

Her techniques never fail to swoon the audience: for her Symbolic volumes she used  gradient- dyed silks that are multi-layered into sculptural shapes by a fine 3D laser cut frame of PETG; for her  ‘Galactic glitch’ technique, she used cloud-printed silk, which is heat-bonded to mylar and laser cut into the finest lace of thousands of 0.5mm ‘harmonica waves’, creating a dance of quivering echos that optically distort the body.

Overall her show was a sensorial experience that will live a mark in the heads of those who were lucky to assist:  Nick Verstand’s materialized lazer light created a surreal atmosphere of circulating clouds.

How did Iris van Herpen wind up to looking at the human shape in such terms and channelling all those intricate inputs into delicate, moving, impalpable garments? Let’s take a look at the designer’s aesthetic stages throw her collections.


Breaking barriers and innovation, that’s what we could describe as her motto.

van Herpen has been inventing new forms and using methods that had the attention of CERN. Back in 2015 she incorporated all things we want to see in life onto one collection: Game of Thrones, robots and stunning garments. She dressed GoT  Brienne of Tarth actress Gwendoline Christie in a garment created with laser cutting and 3D printing in her Quaquaversal ready-to-wear collection for Spring Summer 2016.


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The same year Iris van Herpen’s study on volumes and how they could transform the relationship between past and future into never-seen-before garments led to her Autumn Winter 2016 bubble like exoskeleton. The Dutch designer expressed her ‘State of Dreaming’ collection in these words:

“When I design, the draping process most of the time happens to me unconsciously,” said van Herpen. “I see lucid dreams as a microscope with which I can look into my unconsciousness.”


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We could say Van Herpen’s pioneering into fashion is an all senses experience: touching, feeling, hearing and seeing as well as being tricked by her intricate visuals. In 2017 her Between the Lines collection wanted us to lose ourselves and be dazed by her distortions, which she applied to the model’s bodies in the shape of hypnotic designs.


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What is a dress that doesn’t move? Van Herpen, who started her fashion label in 2007 and whose works have been featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the V&A , didn’t want to give only the idea of movement to her garments; in 2018 she was able to convert the motion of flying birds into a kinetic lighting installation by Studio Drift.

Studying the relationships between the organic and the inorganic, Iris van Herpen presented her Haute Couture collection, ʻSyntopiaʼ, on July 2nd, 2018 at Le Trianon in Paris.

What will be the next interpretations and ways of channeling them into amazing garments by the visionary fashion designer?