Arizona Costume Institute launches a yearlong celebration of its 50th anniversary with the purchase of a one-of-a-kind 3D printed couture dress by Iris van Herpen. The Dutch fashion designer has been lauded in Vogue magazine  as “one of contemporary fashion’s few true conceptual thinkers.” In 2011, the designer’s 3D printed dresses were included in TIME magazine’s 50 Best Inventions of the year. Van Herpen is a guest of the prestigious Parisian Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture and her highly coveted creations have recently been acquired by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Groninger Museum, and now Phoenix Art Museum.

ACI,with the guidance of Phoenix Art Museum’s Curator of Fashion Design, Dennita Sewell, purchased a silicone covered polyurethane 3D printed dress, known as the “Eleventh” dress and the finale look from van Herpen’s Fall/Winter 2014 “Biopiracy” collection. Van Herpen collaborated with architect Julia Koerner and Materialise to develop the innovative design and materials. The “Biopiracy” collection is one of van Herpen’s most significant because it demonstrates how cutting edge technology can be generously incorporated into high-fashion without compromising its style and function. In addition to van Herpen’s creative use of new materials, “Biopiracy” was presented in a shocking visual performance that featured models suspended in vacuum sealed plastic sheets.

The “Eleventh” dress was featured in National Geographic magazine and is on view at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta  in van Herpen’s  debut U.S. exhibition, “Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion,” which travels to Phoenix Art Museum in 2018.  This inventive dress is the first 3D printed object to be acquired by Phoenix Art Museum and, according to Sewell, holds a special significance in  the museum’s fashion collection because of its revelatory design.

“The “Eleventh” dress is a groundbreaking design that exemplifies the enormous range of possibilities that exist for the future of fashion.  “We’re elated to have acquired such a rare example of Iris van Herpen’s pioneering work,” Sewell said.

The Iris van Herpen purchase is just one of many initiatives ACI and the Fashion Design Department have planned in 2016 to celebrate ACI’s golden anniversary. A major exhibition titled “Defining Moments: 50 Years of Fashion at Phoenix Art Museum” will feature 50 significant objects that chronicle the history of the museum’s permanent fashion design collection. The exhibit will be on view from April 2 – Aug. 7. In addition to the exhibit, a cocktail party open to the public is also planned with fashion industry icons such as Ruben and Isabel Toledo attending.