Amsterdam-based designer Iris van Herpen’s ethereal sculptural garments challenge traditional notions of the handmade through technological innovation and novel materiality. Van Herpen’s Blue Marble Dress is created entirely from Parley Ocean Plastic®, a material made out of upcycled marine debris—primarily PET bottles—in collaboration with the environmental network Parley for the Oceans. Hand-cut plastic discs, gradient-dyed in aquatic hues from brilliant blue to lucid white, are layered and hand-stitched into a biomorphic design. Elegantly merging the organic and inorganic, plastic appears like shifting scales or lapping oceanic waves. The Blue Marble Dress references famous photographs of Earth taken from space—Earthrise (1968) and The Blue Marble (1972), both of which spurred conversations about conservation at the time of their publishing. From this cosmic view, the designer explains, our hierarchies are flattened and borders removed; Earth appears as “one living, breathing organism.” In an industry that produces millions of tons of waste every year, van Herpen’s innovative approach to design envisions a new, sustainable path for fashion.
Blue Marble Dress from the Iris van Herpen Earthrise Couture Collection, Fall/Winter 2021; Parley Ocean Plastic®, sourced from upcycled marine debris in collaboration with Parley from the Oceans; courtesy of the artist
Widely heralded as one of fashion’s most forward-thinking designers, Iris van Herpen creates garments that fuse artisanal craftsmanship with multidisciplinary technologies, positioning fashion as a diverse and sustainable engine of innovation. Since founding her atelier in 2007, her designs have been featured in solo shows at the Groninger Museum, Royal Ontario Museum, Dallas Museum of Art, and Grand Rapids Art Museum.