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Individuals and Lichting 2009 at AIFW

The students shone during AIFW with collections that captured the zeitgeist of the fashion industry and the new mood for handcrafted excellence and the desire to acquire pieces that can be worn with pride.  As always Individuals offered inspiration and the Lichting 2009 collection bodes well for Holland's fashion future.

By Gabrielle Kennedy /asdf 30-07-2009

Individuals, often one of the most exciting shows during fashion week, didn’t disappoint this season with its “LaLaLa” collection, which marks a new beginning for the Amfi student brand.

Up until this season, the boutique in Amsterdam’s Spui stocked the entire domestically produced collection.  Now the brand is distributed to nine boutiques so rather than focus only on retail, the shop will stock a classic range and be used by all of Amfi as a broader concept space.

“We will start to showcase the broader fashion experience,” says Leslie Holden, head of fashion at Amfi and General Manager of the brand. “It’s going to be a gallery and a happening place, which really just shows we are moving with the times.”

The emphasis on the wholesale side of things will lessen the financial pressure on the brand, which pitches itself at the edgier but wearable end of the market alongside labels like Isabel Marant and Humanoid.

To mark this new direction, Individuals presented a series dominated by a feeling of unrestraint and exquisite attention to detail.  There was more tailoring and handcrafting than usual and a fabulous combination of fabrics.

Each garment in the “LaLaLa” collection felt like something one could own with pride and grow to worship for its narrative. Off-white and cream hues dominated with small touches of duck-egg blue and discreet gold.

The feature coat was hand-made from reusable corsets that were apparently sourced through ebay.  There were a lot of on-trend harem pants and an emphasis on shoulders.

Cohesive and packed with details, the collection toyed with an androgynous sexuality without an over-reliance on the female form ... the effect of which was to give an otherwise strong style a more human fragility.

Lichting 2009, the event showcasing the best of Holland’s seven fashion academies, took fourteen students each showing five pieces to the catwalk for the chance of winning the 10 000 euro “G Star Raw Talent Award.”  

Highlights included Nathanya Zwart who design.nl already found impressive during the Amfi graduation show.  His pieces explored the limits of the “new dandyism” he discovered while living in London’s east end where he found that garments tend to become one with a person, saying much about the wearer.

We had Ratna Ho (ArtEZ) picked as a possible winner.  Her collection was a series of architectural structures that seemed to rise out of an inner scaffolding.  She claims to have been inspired by tribal tattoos and a childhood fascination with artistic creation and My Little Pony.  It was perhaps her lack of a strong enough concept that held her back, but we found her work to be amongst the most impressive on the catwalk.

Malousebastiaan (HKU) presented the most dramatic collection and was also on design.nl’s list of possible winners.  It might have been a skin disease or an internal examination of the body’s interior in macro format.  The series of spherical growths are without a start or finish and in the end resemble mysterious clusters of bubbles that could float off into the stratosphere.
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Aida Saracini's (Rietveld Academy) collection of shredded black lace possessed a dreamlike drama and beauty.   She has stated that dreams keep us sane, and thus her collection felt consciously unfinished as if something dangerous had been interrupted.

But the eventual “G Star Raw Talent Award” winner was Ann Boogaerts from ArtEZ whose first model on the runway looked like a guide from a 1960s Republican convention.   The bright red knee length skirt and neatly tucked-in canary yellow blouse popped as the first collection to really take a risk with colour.  From there it just got better with probably the strongest realization of concept of the night.  

Boogaert’s muse was the young Belgian Queen, Fabiola, who in 1958 attended the World Fair in Brussels dressed in a typically sober and bourgeois style.  But then she fell in love with a Dutchman and came to Holland where she struggled with her identity and developed an attachment to  Mondriaan and Rietveld. Her wardrobe evolved to reflect these new interests as did Boogaert's garments which took on new and interesting shapes as te show progressed.  The final piece, a wedding dress, was in red white and blue, the colours of the Dutch flag – her Dutch love reigned.

On the judging panel of Lichting 2009 was Dutchman and Lanvin men’s wear designer Lucas Ossendrijver.

A graduate of ArtEZ himself, Ossendrijver gave a heartfelt and emotional speech admitting that he turned up not really knowing what to expect.  “I was really surprised though”, he said.  “The technicality and the styling were all great, but sixteen years after graduating myself I now realize how important education is. It’s a tough business out there and nothing is instant.  Graduating is no an end but a new beginning.”

Lichting 2009, the third edition, is a project of HTNK Fashion Recruitment & Consultancy, Amsterdam International Fashion Week and Premsela - Dutch Platform for Design and Fashion, in collaboration with G-Star Raw.

Images - top page Ann Boogaerts, large image and top four small images this page Individuals.  Ratna Ho, Malousebastiaan, Aida Saracini.

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