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Iris van Herpen Talks Dressing Björk for Heartbreak

The designer shows in Paris today, but you can find her work at MoMA through June.

Alexander McQueen, Hussein Chalayan, Marjan Pejoski, Bernhard Willhelm—to be among the designers whom Björk has tapped to collaborate on her infamously fantastical costumes is to wear a special badge of cred that’s at once arty and mainstream. Iris van Herpen, the 30-year-old Belgian designer (herself a vet of the McQueen internship program) known for her sculptural creations and gamely embracing 3-D printing in all of its enigmatic potential, counts herself among those ranks. Björk has worn van Herpen’s work to music festivals, on the cover of her 2011 album Biophilia…hell, over this past weekend the singer kicked off her Vulnicura world tour at Carnegie Hall wearing a custom van Herpen gown featuring a “motorized chest piece” that opened during the course of her set.

And while any of those career coups might send a young designer into a state of creative ecstasy, a recent outing with the singer stands out in particular. “It was really special,” van Herpen tells Style.com of the two looks she created for Black Lake, a 10-minute immersive video experience commissioned for (and now showing at) the Museum of Modern Art’s Björk retrospective. “Sometimes I make a dress for her that is based on a design that I already did, but this was more customized, where she really explained to me the concept of the song and the video and the artwork that she wanted to make for MoMA. It was really from scratch, from the beginning on, and [the pieces were in both] materials and techniques I never did before. It was really for her and the concept of the song.”

The concept, it should be noted, is embodied in an intensely unapologetic, mournful song about heartbreak, written by Björk on the heels of her split from longtime partner Matthew Barney. In the video she pulls at her hair against a backdrop of the Icelandic countryside and falls to her knees into loam on a cave floor. Van Herpen’s signature marriage of organic forms and synthetic fabrications lends itself gorgeously to Björk’s world. For Black Lake, she whipped up a forest green dress in custom silk shot through with threads of copper that gives it a malleability. “I didn’t want to have a really smooth dress,” says van Herpen. “I wanted it to be raw, and that’s why we did all the pleating by hand. I [wanted] it to fit with the rocks and the landscape of Iceland.” The second look is no less stunning, a tangerine-colored cape that sheds “petals” throughout the course of the video.

While preparations for van Herpen’s own presentation (with the appropriately expansive theme of infinity, we hear) this afternoon has so far precluded her from seeing the MoMA show in person, she assures us it’s first on her post-Paris to-do list.

Kristin Anderson

publié dans style.com - 10.03.2015

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