Techie Couture: See Iris Van Herpen's 3-D-Printed Dresses at the Groninger Museum

Iris van Herpen's "Refinery smoke," July 2008
(Photo by Bart Oomes, No 6 Studios; © Iris van Herpen)

Iris van Herpen’s innovative design methods have earned the 27-year-old numerous accolades in the past five years. The Dutch designer fuses technology and fashion to create intricate sculptural garments through 3-D printing. Björk wore one of Van Herpen’s creations for her “Biophilia” album cover, Time named her 3-D-printed dress one of the best inventions of 2011, and she is a guest member of the prestigious Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. The first large-scale exhibition of Van Herpen’s work is on display through September 23 at the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands.

The couturier initially starts her process by making a sketch in Photoshop before working with an architect to create a 3-D model, which is then printed onto polymers like Plexiglas or latex. The exhibition shows Van Herpen’s work from 2008 to present, beginning with the 2008 Refinery Smoke collection, in which she used thin wire gauze to replicate the look of smoke floating in air, all the way up to Micro, her latest collection made with a 3-D printer, laser cutting, and electroplating bath techniques, which produce metallic coating.


Van Herpen studied at the ArtEZ Hogeschool voor Kunsten (ArtEZ Institute of the Arts) in Arnhem, pursuing an internship with Alexander McQueen before founding her own label in 2007.

Click on the slide show to see highlights from “Iris van Herpen,” on display through September 23 at the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands.