Refinery Smoke / July 2008
This collection is based on the astonishing beauty, the ambiguous character and, above all, the elusiveness of industrial smoke. Seen from a distance, smoke can provide a fascinating and dynamic spectacle: at times it seems to be alive, but at the same time it also harbours something sinister and can often be toxic.
These properties and the apparently flowing, incredibly soft texture of smoke made Iris van Herpenwonder whether it could ever be possible to gain control of smoke to such an extent that it couldbe used for clothing and worn around the body. Van Herpen has expressed these ideas in metal gauze that she has had specially woven for this collection.
This material, which is unusual in the fashion world, consists of innumerable fine metal threads. In their natural state they feel awfully cold and rough, but by means of a special process she has had them turned into an extremely soft and pliable material. Van Herpen has thus forced the obstinate material into forming wearable outfits as soft as silk and that look as light as gossamer. The dresses began life as silver grey, but have oxidized in the meantime to a reddish-brown glow. Van Herpen sees this rusting process as reflecting the dual aspect of industrial smoke.
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