Iris Van Herpen: Behind the Scenes at The Costume Institute Conservation Laboratory


As a conservator, the reason I love plastics is that they’re kind of
a ticking time bomb. We’re not quite sure
how they’re going to age and they’re very challenging
to preserve. We love to collect
Iris Van Herpen’s work. She is one of the most innovative designers
working today. For this dress,
called “Moon,” Iris Van Herpen
took a polyurethane rubber and mixed metal filings in it. She then poured it
over a cotton dress, took magnets,
pulsed it on top and bottom to create the craggy moonscape
that you see. It’s actually quite soft
and supple. From a preventive conservation
perspective, we’re concerned that it will
start to harden and degrade. We would like to store it
without oxygen and in the dark. This dress is called “Bird.” On top it has
actual bird skulls with pearls
and glass eyes attached and then dipped in silicone. These dresses are made from
completely unorthodox materials, so we understand
we might not be able to make them last. However, we collected
these pieces directly from the runway to safeguard them
and try to prolong their life.

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