Explore behind the scenes at The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute Conservation Laboratory, where objects in the collection and exhibition loans are expertly conserved. In this video, Sarah Scaturro, conservator in The Met's Costume Institute, offers a close look at two Iris Van Herpen dresses.
Iris Van Herpen (Dutch, born 1984). Dress, fall/winter 2013–14. Polyurethane resin, iron filings, cotton, metal. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Friends of The Costume Institute Gifts, 2015 (2016.13)
Iris Van Herpen (Dutch, born 1984). Dress, fall/winter 2013–14. Silicone, cotton, metal, synthetic, glass. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Friends of The Costume Institute Gifts, 2015 (2016.14)
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Sarah Scaturro: As a conservator, the reason I love plastics is 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 that 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 lives.
Director: Kate Farrell
Producer: Sarah Cowan
Editor: Sarah Cowan
Cameras: Kelly Richardson, Stephanie Wuertz
Lighting: Dia Felix
Production Assistant: Skyla Choi
Original Music: Austin Fisher
Produced in partnership with Google Arts & Culture