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Dutch designers at London Fashion Week

We catch up with Dutch design on show at London Fashion Week

By Katie Dominy /asdf 21-02-2013

Let’s start with the Dutch entry to the International Fashion Showcase, which sees the promotion of young fashion talent from 27 countries, organised via the British Council and the relevant national embassies. Entitled High Fashion Low Countries, the exhibition from the Netherlands was held at Somerset House, alongside the main London Fashion Week catwalk tents and showed the work of three Dutch designers Jantine van Peski, Pauline van Dongen and Natalie de Koning, alongside three Belgian designers. Based around theme of sustainability and slow fashion, the exhibition was curated by Eve-Marie Kuijstermans in collaboration with Javier Barcala. 

High Fashion Low Countries was first shown last year in Amsterdam and Brussels; the exhibition also includes a film and magazine directed by Javier Barcala. We spoke with Kuijstermans and Barcala about the reaction in London to the work.

“We had over 1000 visitors during the first weekend. I acknowledge there were many editors, fashion buyers and known designers on the opening night, but in the crowd there were also students and regular visitors who never normally go to a fashion show. I noticed many of our visitors were intrigued to see the work that goes in the making of these pieces and this is what partially justifies the price and the expectation drawn upon them, something that is brought into question so many times.

“The exhibition shows that avant-garde fashion can be sustainable and the other way around. When these two ends meet there is room for more designers and buyers to feel included and realise they can also do this. We had very sophisticated couture pieces next to more eccentric and daring ones to show the wide range of approaches that can be met with a reasonable level of sustainable practise and local production.

“And since we showed the work of the designers with absolute transparency, in terms of where they find resources, their meticulous research, working methods… the project can be taken as an example that sustainable practices means not only (the sometimes impossible task of) using purely recuperated materials or eco-fabrics, but it also means using quality materials, locally sourced and taking time to research and craft pieces that can last longer.”

Michael van der Ham is now a regular on the London Catwalk circuit and his designer outfits for 250 dancers for the UK’s Olympic Opening Ceremony in July took his profile even higher. For autumn/winter 2013/14 van der Ham moved away from his tried and tested formula of patchwork pattern with more obvious vintage references to a more refined and subtle approach. The semi-abstract floral, paisley, animal and nature-inspired silk jacquards and prints in a dark sombre palette have an oriental quality, brought into stronger focus by the use of asymmetric hems and embroidery details. Many of the silk tunics and dresses sport small cut-outs, as though eaten by hungry moths; worn over contrast pattern and with yet a third contrasting trouser or skirt, this results in a selection of elegant colour mixes.

Maarten van der Horst brought his new collection to Tate Modern, in the ‘Tate Tanks’, a circular soon-to-be-completed art space converted from the ex-power station’s underground oil tanks. Included as part of Topshop’s Showspace that each season links with upcoming designers, van der Horst created a collection based on lo-fi glamour and the ‘DIY spirit of punk and zine culture’.

The designer customised favourite Topshop basic garments with his own logos and heavy-metal inspired monograms; all silk-screened using a tight palette of black, white and lilac. Panels were held together by aluminium tape and the whole presentation had an industrial feel, set against giant silver insulating pipes. Billed as inspired by the concept of the consumer as submissive to a brand, we like to think this is a conceit on van der Horst’s part as regards Tate and Topshop, two of the UK’s most powerful brand names.

Finally, we wrote about Hellen van Rees last week, read about her collection of recycled tweeds.
Main: Jantine van Peski, High Fashion Low Countries: photography Javier Barcala
1: Natalie de Koning, same
2, 3 & 4: Michael van der Ham
5 & 6: Maarten van der Horst: photography by Derrick Kakembo

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