Interview with Iris van Herpen

Your work is often described as a collaboration between traditional handicraft and modern technology. Which of these aspects prevails in the process of creation of your works?

They go hand in hand. In the early years, I was focused on manual execution, but over time it organically intertwined with the technological aspects of my work: 3D printing, laser cutting.

During the creation of the Iris van Herpen spring-summer 2019 collection, you collaborated with a former NASA engineer and artist Kim Keever. What was his contribution to the collection?

Kim works at the intersection of photography and painting. He creates underwater paintings and captures the transformation of paint in liquid. When it comes to the spring-summer 2019 collection, he took a bunch of photos, which turned into a two-dimensional organza pattern that became a part of the collection. Layers of material overlapped one another, conveying the full depth of the color of his work.

What was the most difficult part of that collection?

Most of my time, about six months, went on creating the glitché dress. It is assembled from thousands of parts - laser cut laces that are less than half a millimeter thick. It is so thin that it starts to vibrate at a frequency inaccessible to the human eye, and it looks absolutely incredible. Professor of Architecture Phillip Beazley helped us to develop the technology for the creation of that dress

Who else do you want to work with in the future?

With British architect Thomas Heatherwick, I admire his work. I think that our cooperation with NASA can be quite productive. I have already done a collaboration with the Massachusetts University of Technology and I will be glad to work with them once again.

What is the role of technology in your life?

Paradoxically, I almost never use gadgets outside of work. I grew up without a TV, and I still don't have one. And I try to minimize my time in front of a computer.

What was your first experience that was related to fashion?

My grandmother had a huge collection of clothes, she collected them throughout her life. My favorite one was the dark purple velvet dress of the XIX century. It was incredibly fine work, it was embroidered with lace. As a child, I had no idea how these beautiful things are made, but, when I first tried to wear them, I immediately felt their power. When you put on something that is really beautiful, it can drastically change your energy and the way you look at things.

Tell me about some things that you have in your closet

Most of my closet is filled with my early works, particularly, my first ever collection. The more time and effort you put into a thing, the more of a personal reflection it becomes, it’s almost as if I am constantly writing diaries. They remind me of the way I perceived life many years ago.

You have another passion - skydiving. What else do you like?

Oh, I am so busy now, I don’t have that much time for hobbies, but I’ve had quite a few back in the day! For a long time, I studied classical ballets and gymnastics, played the violin. I do skydiving when I need some time to think about life and relax. This is my way of rebooting my mind and my body.

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Interview with Blanca Padilla

It is always interesting to know what supermodels and makeup artists talk about backstage because it is in these conversations that people most often open their souls to each other. On the occasion of the release of the new tonal fluid Teint Couture Everwear, we overheard (and recorded!) The conversation of the makeup director of the House of Givenchy, Nicolas De Gennes with his muse and face of the brand – model by the name of Blanca Padilla.

Nicolas - Blanca, I am very glad to have the opportunity to talk with you today. I am very excited.

Blanca - I also never gave an interview to a makeup artist in my life. It will be my first time. Moreover, it is always pleasant to cooperate with you - we are on very much on the same page. I am pleased about our latest work that we’ve cooperated on for the Teint Couture Everwear. Although it took many hours of shooting, it was very easy for me, it is almost as if I’ve had a day off. Also, I like that you always try to come up with something unique, you are looking for new formats and textures, and you do not try to distort other people's ideas.

And I never cease to admire your professionalism and beauty. You are a born model! By the way, have always dreamed of becoming one?

No. You won't believe it, but I wanted to be, like you, a makeup artist. As a child, I wanted to be beautiful, yet life is a peculiar thing.


For example, at 15, I tried to paint my eyelashes. Needless to say, it was a disaster. But this did not stop me, so I took a pencil and made it even worse. In the end, I looked like the Catwoman! But I became better at it with time. I rarely ever applied makeup at school, but I did it every day for other occasions, to meet up with my friends, etc.

Who inspired this love for beauty in you?

I do not even remember. You know, some girls are so addicted to makeup that they feel uncomfortable without it. I was just like that. A friend insisted that I need to be modest, and I answered: “No! No! What do you even mean?” Of course, having matured, I realized that you can easily overdo it, you should be modest

Okay, your commitment to the beauty-industry is unquestionable. Does fashion inspire you as much?

Of course! Remember, for example, the incredible adornments and gothic trinketry created by Givenchy’s creative director Claire Waight Keller! I am in love with those products.

Do you like shopping?

Of course, I am! Especially when it comes to treasure hunts in second-hand and vintage online stores. But, as of late, I am trying to be wiser about my purchases, I have no place in my closet anymore.

How did you become a model?

At 19, when I was in Madrid, an agent spotted me. Everything developed rapidly from that point: I went to a shooting in New York, then I ended up in Paris.

What was the most difficult thing at the beginning of your journey?

I was shocked by a radical change in lifestyle. I had to fly a lot, I couldn't manage to plan a lot of things that I wanted. In general, being a young girl in this business is not easy. But I was lucky - my family supported me throughout my journey. And having achieved success, I understand that everything was worth it. I love my job!

Talk about your favorite travel destinations.

Madrid and Barcelona, they are native to me, but nothing can top them. Besides them, London and Los Angeles. I also love hot tropics, I absolutely adore them. I cannot even imagine where I would like to live in my thirties.

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New York City Premiere coming up — March 2, 2013

Our program explores the deep intersection between medicine and the arts, and My Coma Dreams exemplifies the crucial links within that intersection.   Dr. Rita Charon

MY COMA DREAMS will have its New York City premiere – in the most fitting and meaningful way! On March 2, 2013 we will do two performances at the Miller Theatre under the auspices of The Program in Narrative Medicine, a groundbreaking graduate program at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University.


Saturday March 2, 2013. Two performances at 3 and 8PM.
The Miller Theatre at Columbia University. Info & tickets

What makes this New York premiere so exciting is the synergy between our show and its new producing partner, The Program in Narrative Medicine. In Berlin, we discovered how the piece could speak to an audience of medical professionals. In San Francisco, we were blessed with a great venue to present the show to the general public. And it was rapturously received by a sold-out house. In New York we are going to bring those two types of audience together!
The Program in Narrative Medicine was started by Dr. Rita Charon, a Harvard-educated internist who had come to feel frustrated by the limited ways she was able to communicate and empathize with her patients. She set out to try to broaden her understanding of the doctor/patient relationship through literature, philosophy and the arts. Her casual investigation eventually led to a PhD in literature and the founding of the Program in Narrative Medicine. Read more here (“How Storytelling Is Changing the Way Doctors Treat Illness” Oprah magazine)


Dr. Charon has said of the upcoming presentation:

As a lifelong jazz fan, I am thrilled to be working with Fred Hersch, one of the foremost jazz musicians of our time. As a physician and educator, I believe that this production cuts right to the core of representation and what it means to be a patient, a doctor, a caregiver—to be human.


We will be returning with our entire artistic and performing team in place: Fred and Michael, and our extraordinary ensemble conducted by Gregg. Eamonn and Aaron will again be working their magic behind the scenes, making it all look easy.

More coming up from Fred and me as we get closer…
Happy Holidays!

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Coma Dreams in San Francisco

The October 30th performance of My Coma Dreams at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco was a knockout. (Also to note that Halloween weekend in SF is not to be missed!) Herschel and I did some adjusting to the music and script that re-focused different aspects of the piece, some lighting cues were changed, and Michael Winther gave his best performance of the piece so far. We are hoping that there will be more national and international performances of MCD in the not-too-distant future - and are actively working on this - but this is a big undertaking for a presenter and it will take time for it to find venues. All of us are very proud of what we have achieved - it is a unique “jazz/theater” experience - and we want as many people as possible to see and experience it! More soon and Happy New Year!

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My Coma Dreams goes to Berlin

The world works in mysterious ways. We’re going to Berlin!

After reading the feature article about me in the Sunday New York Times Magazine from late January, 2009, [click here to read it] I was immediately contacted by Dr. Jean-Daniel Chiche, a Parisian doctor who was putting together the annual conference of the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine Congress to invite me to speak at the Congress in Barcelona in October, 2009. (See my address at the opening plenary of the Congress on the Audio/Video page of this site - I also performed a solo concert that evening.) Intensivists were very taken with the story of my coma and recovery and many commented that it was great to hear from someone who had been through - and survived - the kinds of medical challenges they deal with every day in the ICU.

Now Dr. Chiche has decided to produce a radically new production of My Coma Dreams at their next Congress in Berlin on October 3rd. It will take place in The Forum of an amazing Frank Gehry building (click the link, but please be patient, as the view of The Forum comes on screen after a couple of minutes). There will be standard projections of the video imagery behind the stage but the images will also be projected onto the glass “clouds” above the audience - who will be encouraged to view the piece while lying down! Herschel and our tech team, in conjunction with the team in Berlin, may add other elements such as a live video of the show that will be simultaneously projected on panels to the side of the stage. It is rare for a new piece to get, on its second outing, a new production that has a different spin and is quite imaginative. Check this blog for more posts as this all develops.

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My Coma Dreams in The New Republic

David Hajdu’s review in The New Republic (May 13, 2011) begins by enumerating some of the pitfalls of the dream-story. He puts it very well:

Few things of meaning come across as more meaningless than another person’s dreams. Everything that makes a dream fascinating to the dreamer—the confusion, the illogic, the mercurialness of time, place, and identity—seems like little more than random weirdness when the Id involved is not our own. As a means for making art, moreover, dream-telling is treacherous for all but the most artful of tellers.

And truth be told, “random weirdness” is exactly what Fred and I were intent on avoiding in the creation of the piece. I told him early on that to me the greatest dream-writer is Kafka, because his style is so pellucid, so precisely not weird that the reader has no choice but to become immersed in the dream-reality of his narratives. And in Fred’s score every dream is also approached on its own terms, without musical ‘commentary’ or willful strangeness. For my part, I was determined that every moment of the piece be based on very clear dramatizations of the dreams – even when the ‘meanings’ of the dreams were elusive or ambiguous. Michael Winther, our wonderful star (although of course, he’ll blanch at that description) was invaluable in keeping me honest on this issue during the rehearsal process. His work as a performer is so grounded in the real that he would always insist on finding the most straightforward, simple approach to everything we did in rehearsal. We never once allowed ourselves to fall back on the idea of “this section makes no sense, but what-the-hell? It’s a dream.” Except, of course, as a grim joke when things weren’t going well.
In summary, Hajdu says that My Coma Dreams is

…an expansive, ambitious new long-form work that escapes the treachery of dream-telling…
I found the piece unshakable—serious, profoundly moving, and sometimes disturbing, a work of dream art as elegant as Stravinsky’s “Petit Concert” and as memorable as “Yesterday.”

To read the whole article, click here.

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Looking Forward to San Francisco

It’s an exciting time for My Coma Dreams. On October 30, we’ll be taking the show to the historic Herbst Theater in San Francisco– an absolutely eye-popping, gorgeous theater that is part of the SF War Memorial complex. Here’s a peek:

Herbst Theater, San Francisco

For details and tickets, click here. We have made some small adjustments to our floor plan to accommodate the stage space of the Herbst, but Aaron Copp (our designer) and I (our writer/director) have met and gone over the necessary modifications. I think they’ll actually help the look of the stage environment.
Most importantly, all of us on the artistic team are incredibly eager to get back to the piece, which had an odd and wonderful gestation the first time around: in a word, it simmered for a long time and then came to a boil very quickly. I think all of us only began to appreciate the piece we had made once it was over. Now we are all ready to approach it with much clearer focus — we know what we’ve got.
My Coma Dreams meant so much to so many people in our audiences the first time around, that I hope this blog will eventually become a real forum for our community to comment and reflect upon the piece and the issues it raises. For now, we’ll start off the blog with a few interesting things that have already been said about My Coma Dreams, and some thoughts from our artists involved in the project. –Herschel Garfein

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