A T-Shirt story

At the moment I am into the second week of the excellent course ‘Who made my Clothes?’And I have something to tell.

P1120853This is the fantastic and touching story of my basic black HEMA t-shirt. Yes, although I am simple I have a story to tell. Many people are involved into this story. People we haven’t met or will meet. But they are the people who made your clothes often in countries far away. They are mostly women who have to do the work in the garmentfactories. Very different from most people living in the Netherlands who can afford t-shirs like we are. Often with low wages or in bad working and living circumstances. Be aware of that point: They do it for all of us and they have something to tell to you!

Here is my story. I am not alone. I live with 14 brothers and sisters in a wardrobe in Amsterdam. P1120838 (2)The two men living there really take good care of us. We get washed and showered in a machine and get dry while they put us down on chairs and railings. Every now and than we get a warm massage by a heating machine. Yes, our life is not bad at all because when we are on one of their bodies we feel loved and cherished by them. Before we were bought by one of the two men we where wrapped in plastic foil and waiting to be taken home in a HEMA shop in Amsterdam. We could have been bought by someone else and our life perhaps would have been very different. Maybe we were already binned or not used at all.

So we are lucky here at the pile in the wardrobe. P1120858 (2)Every now and than the door opens and we get a glimpse of the canal in front of the house. And while it is summer we are hardly used by them because they now only wear funny printed shirts. P1120851They also have many of those, but that is another story which might be told one day.

The plastic foil outfit was put around us in a factory in Bangladesh. Roughly 9042 km from Amsterdam. By plane it takes a bit more than 13 hours and by boat 4 weeks. I am not sure which transport we took because it was dark in the box and we fell asleep. Suddenly it was opened and we heared a language we didn’t understand.

Our life story started at a cotton plantation in Brasil. Some of the early lives of my familie started in West Africa or in Australia. Light, white and fluffy we were after all the heath and water we got. Luckily for us no pesticides were used because we know from former generations that they suffered under it. The harvest of the cottonplant was done by a machine. Rather rough I must admit.  All of us than were pushed together in big bales. Not much air to breath but we survived the long transport by boat to Bangladesh. So happy to get into the open again and breath and breath! But it didn’t took long before we all got seperated by a huge machine and mixed with another family with the curious familyname Elasthan. Noting better than mixing up we always say. But only if it gets better after The Mix! And it did became much better after we all came together in an endless long white thread! Round and round we went till we all got dizzy while they wrapped us on big cones. Into the van we went. All close together. Rather cozy, warm and with a real family feeling. Another factory we went to be knitted into miles and miles of fabric. Hundreds of women and men were working in those factories to get everything done. To get a fabric without any fault in it. To get it ready in time to be dyed black! Into the black swimmingpool we went and out we came as a beautiful and shining black fabric. Many hands touched us. Checked us again if there were no mistakes. We were lucky. No mistakes. The next step could be made in the manufacturing factory also in Bangladesh. Cutting us in pieces to make t-shirts. We were lucky to be saved. A small part of the fabric was not. That is life I guess.

I came into a whirlwind of handmovements. A stamp was put onto the backpart mentioning that I belonged to the HEMA family. Hands from different women were touching me One was sewing the shoulders together. Another one did the side seams.At the end I was made. Yeah! I became a Proud Black Basic T-shirt.

Promise me that when you buy a new garment remember this story. Every garment is made by hand! By a women or man as yourself. With the same dreams and desires you had when you were young. Read the stories of them. HEMA was really open about telling this story.  Be aware of that is all I ask from you! And maybe change your habits and stand up for the workers in the textilechain. We are all humans!

Zeeuws Museum X Das Leben am Haverkamp

At the moment the Zeeuws museum in Middelburg is showing a very intriguing fashionexhibition by the designcollective ‘Das Leben am Haverkamp.’ The collective is formed by Anouk van Klaveren (1991), Christa van der Meer (1988), Dewi Bekker (1990) and Gino Anthonisse (1988). They all graduated from the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague.

Imagine: you, as a visitor enters the museum in the summer of 2017. You are asked to join a project in which you get to see an object from the storageroom of the museum. Than you are asked to describe the object and tell your story about it. It can be objects you know, but also things you don’t have a clue of.

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Those descriptions were the inspiration for the collective to design objects which can be seen in the exhibition. While looking at them you can hear the story of the visitor. The inspration objects are stocked in small room annex the exhibition. Their approach to design and fashion is very unconventional. There are no strict rules or borders in everything they create.

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Beautiful made in bright colors they take the visitor with them on a journey in which surprises wait for you. I was totally blown away by it! Words as funny, hilarious, sexual, desire, shocking and beauty came into my mind.  To be seen till 05.05.2019

 

 

State of Fashion. Part 2 #searching for the new luxury

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One of the brands and ideas which really hit me in the exhibition was the Indian label 11.11/eleven eleven. Design and vision are  by  Shani Himanshu (Master’s in Fashion Design from Domus Academy, Milan)  and Mia Morikawa (Graphic Design graduate from Central Saint Martin’s University of the Arts, London.)

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Their design idea was placed on a table on which all stages of the product were placed. All very clear and sensitive. From the raw cotton spun into yarn and woven into khadi cotton tot the dying of the fabric with natural indigo (more on indigo in a later post!) till the final design as a beautiful shirt, jacket or trousers. P1120091By working with craftsmen in India and by respecting their work those items can be stated as 100% handmade. They can be seen as basics, but they are basics which tell the stories of the makers involved in it. Yes, they are not very cheap, not very expensive either, but considering the work which is into it one can say that those garments will be worn for years and will be a cherished garment fort he wearer and could be worn by another generation. For me sustainability is not only about the enviroment but also about a product which tells a story, lasts long and is made with a specific idea as 11.11/eleven eleven is doing.

Check their website and I am alsmost sure you fall inlove with an item.

Buttton Masala for Crafts is a fashion design idea by Anuj Sharma (1974). By using buttons and elastics in a clever way one can make garments which can be changed into other shapes, formes etc. He is sharing his knowledge with craftsmen in poorer regions in India to make them more self-sufficient. It is a very democratic way of making and wearing a garment. From a simple fabric with a check a stylish dress can be made. Have a look at his Facebookpage and you will be amazed about his garments. Concious Contemporary Craft: Connecting Communities is a project organized by the London College of Fashion which isabout sharing knowledge and craf and empoweringt people who are living in difficult situations or having a life with almost no future. The information was clear stated on the plaque and I can’t write it more clear. So take a moment to read it.P1120148 (2)On garments from the project words as FRAGILE and WHAT IF IT WAS YOU were placed.

Yes, I thought: what if it was me? And what if I was born in another situation? In a country with no possibilities to develop myself. What if I was born in a poor family? What if it was me? This project works with fragile people who by working for the project can feel a change within themselves. This is about sharing an idea were everone gets better at the end.

I would love to start and develop such kind project together with others here in the Netherlands Anyone up for it? Feel free to contact me.

The exhibition ends in a rather technical Lab atmosphere. Some interesting ideas but it is not that you leave with a Big Bang!

State of Fashion. Part 1 #searchingforthenewluxury

state-of-fashion-1Last week I visited the exhibition ‘State of Fashion 2018’ at De melkfabriek in Arnhem. An exhibition that focuses on a more sustainable and fair fashion system. And how can this very polluting industry be changed? ‘Searching for the new luxury’ was the underline. New luxury? What kind of new luxury? Searching for the New Luxury explores new definitions of luxury in response to urgent environmental and social issues: less waste and pollution, more equality, welfare and inclusiveness.
It explores new (bio)technologies, digital platforms and creative processes that fundamentally rethink traditional notions of luxury and, in so doing, contribute to a sustainable future for the industry.

José Teunissen, curator of the exhibition wrote an introduction about the inspiration of the exhibition.

  • The classical dream of fashion – the world of Hollywood glamour, the elegance of the Parisienne and the dashion magazine – is outdated and will be replaced by a new visual language that underlines and expresses the values of an up-coming generation. These completely fresh lifestyles and values will transform the representation and visual langueage of the fashion system as we kno wit, currently recycling the same retro-trends over and over again.
  • The exhibition showcases a range of seductive products and concepts that evoke a better an resilient world, a world we aspire to live in and feel connected to.

I must say: interesting startingpoints for this exhibition.

But are these startingpoints traceable?

For the answer we have to go into the exhibition.

state-2Parts of the garments by Yuima Nakazato were made in a traditional couture way with needle and thread while another part was made in a technologial way by cuttting out squares of fabric which could be connected to eachother by a system he created himself. Garments can change in fabric and size. An interesting idea, but will the consumer of the future take time to change garments this way?

It takes time, is rather fiddely and maybe not everyone is handy in doing this? I have my doubts despite the fact that his collection has a great look.

Next up: Iris van Herpen.state-3One outift from her collection ‘Ludi Naturae’ for Spring 2018.

Always interesting to see her innovative outfits. Her fabrics are often made in collaboration with technical universities or other research insitutes. The fabric of this dress named ‘Foliage’ is made together with the Delft University of Technology. Leaf-like patterns are 3D printed as thin as 0.8 mm and tulle is laid into the 3D printer to print directly onto the fabric,  creating exceptional softness. Fabrics made in this way hardly produce waste, and could be on a bigger scale interesting fort he consumer depending on the price off the product and if the consumer is willing to pay for it.state-13A few pieces from their latest A/W 2018 collection with the title ‘We are not sheep’ by the Designer duo Vin + Omi from London can be seen. On the homepage of their website they have the following statement: We are not just a fashionlabel…we are an ideology. They produce collections with attention for eco innovation and social impact. They are not only fashion designers but also give inspiration for community projects in which rivers are cleaned up of plastic. From this plastic textiles are made which are used in collection. An interesting duo with a vision fort he future. Read thier articles on their website.state-6Vivienne Westwood made a collaboration with the Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI). Not charity, just work is the statement of this initiative. Charity has no dignity is their opinion. I agree for 100%.

Bags for a very small part of the Westwood collection are made in Kenya and provide work  The bags which are made provide work to a group of very poor people. They get a better income and learn a lot. In my opinion a part of this story is true. But, the bags are shown on International catwalks by models who earn much more money by walking up and down the catwalk than the artisans who make those bags and spend hours on them. After reading the website of the EFI my conclucion is that I stand behind the ideology of the EFI.

But when I look at the Website from Vivienne Westwood I can find some bags which are still produced in Africa.

And the rest of all products?

Are they made ethically or fairness?

After having a good look at the webiste I came to the following conclusion.

Fabrics which are used in collections are totally not suistanble or reused or innovative?

So why is Mrs. Westwood in this exhibition?

Because she had a small production line in Africa?

Because she has a statement on het website about Climate Revolution?

On Eluxe Magazine (a publication dedicated to sustainable luxury) I found the following article with a strong headline: Why Vivienne Westwood is nog eco friendly. The article written by journalist Arwa Lodhi gives a clear explanation.

  • But there is no indication that Vivienne Westwood herself is doing anything to do these things herself; in fact, the sheer number of outfits (there were literally dozens of looks) and obviously petroleum-based materials shown on the runway seem to have already violated both her ‘cut out plastic whenever possible’ and ‘quality vs quantity’ points, proving that the Vivienne Westwood label is not eco friendly.

 The rest of the article is worth to read.

So despite the fact that I was a fan of Vivienne Westwood over the years I must admit that my thumbs went down after reading this article.state-7Bruno Pieters gives with his collection under the name ‘Honest by.’ a real insight in the production of his collections. Everything is traceable. For me this idea is something that can change the fashionindustry. Not only because the customer knows exactly the price of the garment. But is also adds value tot he garment which will long last. On his webiste I read this article by the team of Bruno Pieters which touched me. A real statement.

FASHION FAST 2018.

Honest By is proud to announce we are going on a Fashion Fast!
We will not produce any new collections or release new collaborations for the next 9 months; from february until october 2018. Honest By customers can however still purchase our current collections during that time.

WHY.
Bruno Pieters, Honest By’s founder and CEO, was shocked when he read a story by Adam Minter on Bloomberg.com: “No one wants your used clothes anymore.”
The article revealed that between 2000 and 2015, global clothing production doubled, while the average number of times that a garment was worn before disposal declined by 36 percent. In China, it declined by 70 percent.
The rise of “fast fashion” is thus creating a bleak scenario: The tide of secondhand clothes keeps growing even as the markets to reuse them are disappearing. From an environmental standpoint, that’s a big problem. Already, the textile industry accounts for more greenhouse-gas emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined; as recycling markets break down, its contribution could soar.
In an effort to help reduce the alarming rise of clothing production around the world Pieters made a bold decision to stop producing collections and collaborations for 2 whole seasons.

JOIN US.
We invite and encourage all of our customers and everyone who feels concerned to take a look at their wardrobe and ask themselves if they really need more clothing.
“It’s not just Honest By who is going on a Fashion Fast, I will do this in my private life as well. I will not buy new clothes for the next 9 months. And if I would really need something, I will buy it in a vintage store or from old stock.”  —Bruno Pieters
Join Bruno Pieters & Honest By and make 2018 count.
Challenge yourself to go on a Fashion Fast, one week, one month, one season, one year,…
Use the hashtag #fashionfast on social media and inspire others to do the same.
May Mahatma Gandhi’s words inspire you throughout your fast: ” The light of the world will illuminate within you when you fast and purify yourself.” —Mahatma Gandhi

Thank you
The Honest By Team

This is the end of Part 1.

Part 2, about three other labels featured in the exhibition will soon be written. And my conclusion ofcourse.

 

 

My Kingdom for a Hat

Over the last months I have been very fortunate to teach textiledesign at the Medium Level College Sint Lucas in Boxtel. It was a great experience to work in a college were creativity is the startingpoint for students. My classroom was situated in a building which we shared with the departments leather and ceramics. A bunch of very creative teachers who shared their passion with the students. Great fun to work there!

Over the last four months the 4th year students were working on their final Masterpiece. The textilestudents had to design and make textilesamples and hats after a theme they came up with. I wasn’t teaching them, but have had some really nice talks with them while walking into the classroom they were working. They were knitting, embroidering, working with a 3D printer etc. to make their own collection. Eleven students graduated with stunning collections. I wish them all the best of luck and hope to see more work from them in the future

Lana Del Ray by Jeroen Diebels http://www.instagram.com/jeroen.d_
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Koraal/ Greenpeace by Britt van der Looij / Facebook: brittvanderlooij
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Denim Experiments by Pien Vissers
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Acne Studios by Isis Estevao Simoes Verissimo / Instagram: thatgirlnamedis
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My Birthhoroscope by Zoë Klaassen / Instagram: @ziezo_
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Blush by Tess Schrevers / tesschrevers@gmail.com
B
Greek Goddesses by  / Ninevanweert.nvw@gmail.com
C
The colours of Chanel by Kim van Dijk / Kvandijk97@gmail.com
D
Turn nothing into something by Michelle Gomez / http://www.instagram.com/MCHGMZ
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Oer Hollands by Puk van Buul / pukvanbuul@hotmail.com
Irene collage
Inspiration: 1930’s beachfashion by Irene Kuijpers / Instagram.com/irene_kuijpers

And here are some other examples of designs made by students of the leather and ceramic department

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Top left clockwise: Boots by Femms, Plates by Femke Klaversma, Vases by Eefje Karsmakers, Shoes by Nathalie Geurts

One of the highlights for me was the touching installation ‘Stars and Stories’ by Isa Gruson (isagruson97@live.nl). Inspiration came from touching stories told by refugees. About memories, sadness and luck. About the past and future. And all of that captured in white ceramic.                                       kertamiek beterSintLucas is a college which gives students the time to develop their own signature which turns out into wonderful products. It was a pleasure to be part of this over the last four months.

La Maison de Mariette at the Art Brut Biënnale 2018

Yesterday I visted the Art Brut Biënnale 2018 in Hengelo. Art Brut, or sometimes named Outsider Art is artwork made by people with a mental handicap. Usually these artists are autodidact and work in there own specific way and in no particular style or art direction. Usually they have a mental handicap and because of that the work is very direct and raw.

The former factorybuilding Hazemeijer in which the Biënnale took place is now a creative factory filled with all kind of creative industries. The exhibition took place in the big hall. Very different work could be seen as paintings, drawings, ceramics etc.

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Being a textile lover I came across a big wall on which hundred dolls were hung. They were made by Mariette, a French artists who creates a very personal world in her home close to Grenoble. At La Maison de Mariette, or better called her little private museum are 7000 dolls living their own life’s next to drawings,  handmade books and other textile related art work made by the artist herself.

Each of the hundred in Hengelo showed their own individuality. The theme for all of them can be found in religion, spirituality, female sexuality, magic. Some of them suffer from ‘mal d’enfantement’ which is the pain of birth.

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All of them are beautiful, touching and sometimes shocking when you look at each of them. They are made with great attention to details. Often there is handstitching, beading or little labels are sewn to the body of the doll.

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Little relics can be found next to handmade legs or arms.

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It is all made from little scraps of fabric which are found on second hand markets and than combined with other finds.

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Her worksplace could be seen on a video and looks like Alladin’s cave filled with drawers in which lace, beads etc. find their place.

I fell in love with them the moment I saw them and couldn’t keep my eyes of them. The hundred dolls worked very well together as a kind of installation. I went back a few times to see them again and to take photo’s. Everytime I was touched by this very personal work which Mariette shared with me.

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Next tot he dolls was a little dress hanging on a coat hanger free in space. The dress was embroided with stamps, beads, little heads and because of that a new life was added to it.

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Much could be seen and found in the dress. A world of its own which I have never seen before. It became a personal religious dress without the tradition we know from religious garments.

Hopefully one day I can visit her little musuem and see more from her beautiful work and perhaps when I save up money I can buy one of her dolls.

Her Facebookpage can be found HERE.

 

 

Exhibition Jan Taminiau

P1080792I just came home from a visit to the Centraal Museum in Utrecht to see the exhibition ‘Reflections’ from Dutch fashion designer Jan Tamniau.

Jan Tamniau is one of the few fashion designers nowadays who works in the world of Haute Couture. His studio is in the very small village Baambrugge. I have visited it a few times because I had students who did their training at his company. The showroom is one of the most perfect looking places I have ever seen. Very stylish and everything is placed with an eye for detail. Even the coffee I got was in the most beautiful cup. Jan himself is almost not visible for teachers who visit their trainees. Once I got a glimpse from him when the studio was in Amsterdam. He looked like a very shy and silent man. There is a very specialized team around him who make all the garments. Trainees are there to help with f.e. embroidering. Everything is handmade and some dresses take weeks to be finished. Craft, traditional textile techniques,  and most of all embroidery is one of his focus points and is everywhere in his collections.P1080851

P1080844The exhibition itself is a world full of embroidery, glitters, diamonds, pearls, gold, silver. etc.P1080863Almost everything shines and blinks. To be honest: a bit too much for me. I have walked the exhibition a few times up and down and it didn’t get me as the exhibition from Margiela did. The dresses ofcourse are beautiful made, but most of them are also rather traditional by shape and the ones on the exhibition are only for women with very small sizes. P1080852The development in his work is almost not visible. I would have liked to see as a starting point his final collection from his graduation collection and than onwards to his last collection. And maybe some garments without all that ‘diamonds and pearls.’

I took some images from trails of some dresses because I could imagine women wearing those dresses and while walking they would collect all kind of things from the floor. Besides of that idea it is nice to see how different a dress can end.

The design for the exhibiton itself is made by stylist Maarten Spruyt and has plenty of atmosphere. The inspirational world of ‘The Attick’ is beautiful done with old maps, chairs and waling sticks in which the garments made out of cork and silk really fit in.P1080819On one of the walls was wittten that JT is likes embroidery more than fashion. For me that was visible in the green dress.P1080883P1080884The shape didn’t work for me: rather stiff. But the embroidery of the little robots made me smile and was so beautiful done. If you like embroidery: that part of the exhibition is really interesting!  Almost all the designs for embroidery are amazing and works of art. Some dresses are covered up with thousands of beads or pailettes. Hours and hours of work.  The designs can be soft, loud, bright, romantic, sharp, 3-dimensional etc. Some examples and experiments were visible in a small room above the exhibition.

Jan Taminiau is a true master in developing textile techniques out of the traditional ones. He is keeping the world of handmade embroidery alive which needs  to be cherished and loved.

But what about this collage in which macho men appear? I wonder what collection will come out of this moodboard?P1080892

 

 

 

 

 

 

Martin Margiela at Palais Galliera

I was in Paris last week. The weather was sublime and so were the exhibitions we visited.

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One of the exhibition I saw was: ‘Martin Margiela, Collections Femme 1989-2000’ in Palais Galliera.

A few months ago I saw the documentary ‘We Margiela’ by a Dutch documentary maker. It was a bit disappointing to see how the ‘Maison Margiela’ really was inside. Not everything was designed or planned by Margiela himself. In a way it was also a very clever way of marketing a product.  Next to that is was also about freedom of designing, commitment by a team, and making garments who became icons over the years.

I went home with a double feeling. Not very strange because my attitude towards fashion in genaral has changed over the years. I like good quality made clothes which I can wear for years which is the opposite of the way the fast fashion world works. The hysteria of fashion houses and fashion shows are not for me.

But I love the big world of textiles. That is why I am writing about it. There are textiles which really touch me as my collection vintage handwoven linen towels I bought once in Slovakia. In those towels the hand and dedication of the weaver can be found.

After 20 years Maison Margiela was sold to Diesel. Martin Margiela doesn’t design anymore and has stepped out of the fashionworld. John Galliano is now the designer for the fashionhouse Margiela which was and still is very influential.

I must admit: I still love to wear my very faded Margiela t-shirt with sunglasss print in the summer which I bought years ago. The copy of the interesting fishermans trousers (more tham 20 years old) is still hanging in my wardrobe and so is the woolen sweater from the collection for H&M.

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With all those different feelings I went to see the exhibition and to  my big suprise the admiration for the work came back while walking among the huge amount of garments exhibited. A line and design-reactions towards previous collections could be seen as was crafmanship and amazing startingpoints.

It all started in 1989 with garments like this. Plain and simple but with a good construction and shown with fabric masks.

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And a top made from nylon with a ethnic tatoo print on it. At those days tatooing wasn’t very fashionable as it is nowadays. Worn ofcourse with his favourite boots based on Japanese tabi-boots.

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The models had paint under their boots and from the print made on the catwalk another top was made.

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One of my favourite item is the sweater (collection 1991/1992) made from socks in which the construction comes out of the shape of the sock.

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MM, who was not very found of patterns made his spring/summer 1992 collection from vintage scarves sewed together. Shown with pink dipped fingers as in the fashionshow. They still look fresh and must be great to wear.

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His different attitude and curiosity towards garments is visible in this pink dress made in lining fabric, and worn the way lining is placed in dresses: the inside out.

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In a later collection (1996) that pink dress is used and printed on a dress as a trompe l’oeil.

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The creativity of wearing garments in another way is visible in this huge singlet (1990) worn as a skirt with the overlapping  part which looks like a mini skirt.

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Materialexperiments are everywhere. This top (2001) made from fashionlabels is an example.

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The same with this sweater knitted in mohair in a huge gauge from the 1990-91 collection.

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Blowing up patterns or details is also visible in some collections. A huge zipper at the back of a skirt from 1994-1995.

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In the collection of 2004-2005 everything is size 200%.

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Mixing up. In the collection for 1991, a vintage eveninggown is cut open in the middle and worn over a customized pair of jeans.

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What can be seen at all collections is the element of experimenting and ending up with wearable and some extraordinairy garments. Maybe not for everyone’s taste, but Margiela has always touched me and always will when looking back at all his work.

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If you have time to go: GO!

 

 

 

 

Exhibition Powermasks

The Wereldmuseum in Rotterdam has next to the permanent settings often very interesting temporary exhibitions. At the moment ‘Powermasks-the Power of Masks’ is on show and running till the 18th of March.Exhibition Powermasks
Curated by fashion designer Walter Van Beirendonck, it shows a lot of interesting and strange aspects from the ‘World of the Masks’.
It refers to the phenomenon that masks are often used to give power in the way of divine and/or spiritual power.
The Wereldmuseum is an ethnographic museum, but it shows with this exhibition another side of the idea about this kind of museums. A side in which cultures are still alive instead of the thought that those cultures are more or less extincted.
All the masks in the exhibition come from various continents and places in the world and they show us an insight of the rich and traditional use of them in different cultures. Next to that is the attention for artists and designers who use masks as an inspiration for their work.
 Masks are about hiding a face, but on the other hand you can say that a mask can show another personality of the person who wearing it. It can make you feel stronger and more powerful. You night do things you wouldn’t dare to do not wearing it. It is about identification with another person or spirit.
Masks can be festive or scary for celebrations or used in the theater. They are made from various materials as wood, straw, fur, textiles, leather, iron etc. Details can be painted, embroidered or another technique is used in a rough or delicate way.
One thing is for sure: they are a the very creative expression of the maker.
Exhibition Powermasks
The entrance is overwhelming with a long bench on which a woman is sitting. She is dressed from heat to toe in a flower print outfit by fashion designer Richard Quinn.
You are invited to sit next to her and start a conversation. So I did of course. Not much was said by her, but I could feel that she felt comfortable with me.
On the wall of the first room of the exhibition is a long mural painting by Brian Kenny. Masks from countries as New Guinea, Romania, Switzerland, Indonesia, Korea make a visual spectacle.Exhibition Powermasks
Exhibition Powermasks
Exhibition Powermasks
Exhibition Powermasks
On the right sits a man from Bad Aussee, Styrie in Austria. He is wearing a ‘Flinserl costume’. This costume is used for the celebration of the arriving of spring. Worn by men and women during carnival in February. They walk in big groups through narrow lanes and streets throwing nuts and oranges to children.  Exhibition PowermasksThe costume is handpainted, very rich decorated with colorful felt (flower) shapes and embroidered with sparkling sequins.Exhibition Powermasks
At the end of the room is a man leaning towards the wall. His outfit is by Walter Van Beirendonck for the autumn-winter collection 2012-2013. Masks are often used for the styling of his fashion shows. Theme for this collection: ‘Lust Never Sleeps’. This ‘gentleman with a mustache and hat mask’is made from natural leather.
Exhibition PowermasksIn a way it looks very sophisticated, but it also reminded me of the mask Anthony Hopkins was wearing in the film ‘The Silence of the Lambs‘.
Exhibition PowermasksInspiration for this kind of mask can also be found in the world of S&M. Photo detail: Jim by Robert Mapplethorpe.

Exhibition PowermasksAnother ‘fashion-mask’ is the one designed by John Galliano, head designer Maison Margiela for the Artisanal collection Spring-Summer 2015. This Queen is covered in jewelry. She sits silently in her red dress on a chair waiting to be kissed.

Room 2 shows the influence of masks on artists. Pablo Picasso, Peggy Gugenheim, Lajos Kassák, Joan Miro, Salvador Dalí and many more used masks as inspiration for their artwork.

Exhibition PowermasksIt was May 21, 1966. Number 893 from the French magazine ‘Paris Match‘ was published and within that issue was a big reportage about the first ‘Festival mondial des Arts nègres‘ in Dakar.The name of the photographer was Tony Saulnier. On the last page of that article was a photo from eight guests in evening clothes at a table in a Parisian apartment. All of them had an African mask which covered their faces. Title of the photo was: À Paris, Rue Jacob, le dîner des collectionneurs de têtes. The masks belonged to the collection of the photographer. The title of the photo might have been the inspiration for the poem ‘Tentative de description d’un dîner de têtes à Paris-France by Jacques Prévert. Exhibition PowermasksNext to the masks from Africa is a white outfit by fashion designers Victor & Rolf. Going up the stairs is a wall dedicated to the work by the French Art-photographer Charles Fréger (1975). His photo’s are from the serie ‘Wilder Mann’ which shows costumes from European celebrations of winter festivals.

 

The theme for the third room is Oceania. IMG_5355Tubuan and Dukduk masks are used within celebrations of the Tolai culture at the Gazelle peninsula. Only men can be members of the secret Dukduk society. They are worn during ceremonies in which the spiritis of the ancestors are remembered and during the funeral of one member of the community. Only older and chosen men are allowed to wear them and when you wear them you have to dance. IMG_5357Every two year the Jipae festival takes place in the Asmat region. It is a celebration of the members who passed away since the previous festival. Their spirits return for one evening and night and after that they say goodbye for ever. IMG_5359The mask and costume is made from bark rope in a technique which looks similar to needle binding. To my big surprise there was suddenly a scarf I knew. IMG_5363At an oufit from Walter Van Beirendonck was a woven ‘Volendammer dasje’. Those kind of knitted, woven or crocheted scarves are worn with the traditional costume from Volendam. img_7280.385x525The yarn for it was dyed by Loret Karman who is a dear friend of mine and she is a wonderful person and inspirational indie dyer and knitter. I am no sure who made this one? It could be Yvonne Philippa or another knitter from Amsterdam. The last room is mostly dedicated to art and masks and fashion and masks. IMG_5378 (1)Louise Bourgeois made this head out of carpet when she was 91 years old in 2002. IMG_5376At the front of this photo is Narro costume from Bade-Wurtemberg in Germany and is worn during Carnival in February. Info about it can be found HERE. At the back is a woman dressed from  head to toe in a pied de poule outfit by Jean Paul Gaultier (collection 1991-1992). IMG_5383A male model dressed in a suit made out of grey tweed and wearing a hare mask is at the end of the exhibition and is leaning on a pink painted showcase. This outfit is by fashion designer Thom Browne from his Autumn/Winter collection 2014-2015. A video from this magical show can be seen HERE.