The exceptional Iris van Herpen, highly respected Dutch fashion designer and couturier, took a seat on the jury panel at this year’s International Talent Support in Trieste. This was a coup—she is acclaimed for her futuristic creative vision and inventive collaborations, as well as her position at the forefront of advanced creative techniques such as melding 3D printing technology with fashion design.
Having started out training in classical ballet, Iris switched to studying at the ArtEZ Academy of Art & Design in Arnhem. She then interned at Alexander McQueen in London, before starting her label in 2007. Today she’s a guest member of the prestigious Parisian Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. “I try to make clear that fashion is an artistic expression,” she says. “It’s about showing and wearing art.”
Her experience of judging ITS was overall, she says, pretty harmonious, with the judges’ decisions more or less in sync: “There were, of course, small differences within the jury, but we largely agreed on the criteria. We all individually pitched the positive elements, plus we looked at the finalist’s weaker points, and reached agreement on the winners quite quickly.
Her personal experience of participating in competitions such as ITS amounts to receiving one of the biggest and the best: the “precious and respected” ANDAM Award (Association Nationale pour le Développement des Arts de la Mode) in Paris. “It helped me a lot in my career, so I understand the impact that ITS awards will have on these designers.”
The use of crystals was an integral factor in the contestants’ designs: “I think the crystals were used in a more traditional way than in some of their own collections, but I saw some beautiful material combinations, together with strong shapes and silhouettes, which worked well with the crystals.”
Were there any aspects or key trends that stood out for her? “Actually, I thought the finalists in the jewelry section were all individually strong. There was a lot of variation in materials and techniques,” she adds. She’s also a fan of the crossover of craftsmanship that was on display: “There were techniques like laser-cutting mixed with traditional materials such as metal and crystal, as well as unusual elements—eggshells and stick-on materials.”
Iris is enthusiastic in her praise for the ITS competition: “ITS believes in—and supports—the strongest vision and the most outstanding talent. It’s not about where you are in your career or how experienced you are in translating your vision into a business.” Wise words. What she is saying is something we all know: We have much to be grateful to Barbara Franchin for—without her ITS would not exist, and all this young talent might have remained, unrecognized, in the shadows.