“I really congratulate Paris for having this first,” Queen Maxima of the Netherlands declared at the inauguration of the Iris van Herpen retrospective at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris on Tuesday.
Speaking in French, the Dutch royal lauded van Herpen’s work, describing the couturier as “a Dutch artist of the very first order” and “the woman who gave a new dimension to fashion, whose every dress is an adventure and an enigma.”
Van Herpen then took the royal and France’s first lady Brigitte Macron on a private tour of the exhibit that had them marveling at the creations and innovations showcased.
“How are you this graceful?” Macron asked elite skydiver Domitille Kiger, after viewing van Herpen’s 2021 collection film “Earthrise,” which depicted Kiger plummeting headfirst at 300 kilometers per hour in a heavily embroidered gown.
The freeflying world champion told the evening’s leading ladies that the biggest challenge had been to not smile.
Guests including the French couture federation’s executive president Pascal Morand and Argentina’s ambassador to France Leonardo Costantino – the birth country of the Dutch royal – wound their way through the museum in their wake, likewise alighting on van Herpen’s silhouettes, examples of her textile innovation and design experiments as well as the works of art such as a giant hyperrealistic wave installation by Japanese collective Mé.
Meanwhile, couture collectors had pulled out all the stops.
After all, “if not then, when?” mused Fredrik Robertsson, creative director of the Swedish hair-care company Björn Axén.
“I wanted to look like a Greek goddess and I think we did a good job,” Robertsson joked, showing off a headpiece of moving gold leaves, made by Casey Curran, who frequently collaborates with van Herpen.
Another guest sported an iteration of the futuristic “Galactic Glitch” dress first seen on Céline Dion at the fall 2019 “Hypnosis” show, a confection of laser-cut mylar and cloud-printed Komon Koubou textile cut into harmonica waves that moved around the body.
Demonstrating how his outfit – a 2019 design created for the Met Gala – fanned out with a sweep of an arm, Jordan Roth confided that he’d been treated to a sneak peek of the exhibition the previous evening and “could not wait to reinvestigate.”
“There’s so much to see and feel and do and learn, so one visit is not enough,” said the New York-based theater producer and president of the Friends of the CFDA organization. “It helps us dig both deeper into [her] work and expand [it], it’s the micro and macro at once, the best possible curatorial metaphor for her work.”