Today marks the start of Mercedez-Benz FashionWeek Amsterdam, and I’m happy to announce I’m on the official program.
On July 10th, I will present my collection at the Transformatorhuis, as part of the FashionLab program.
For more information, tickets or questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. For press/PR related questions, contact Nina Truong, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tickets are also available on the FashionWeek website.
Next week, on July 6th, I will present my work at the Atelier Néerlandais in Paris.
During the first edition of the ‘Salon Néerlandais,’ a number of Dutch artists and designers (some fresh out of school, some with years of work experience) will get the opportunity to show their work to an international audience. Fashion & accessory designers, photographers, product designers and bloggers offer a refreshing and highly personal take on Dutch fashion.
You’re very welcome to visit us on Wednesday, July 6th, at the Atelier Néerlandais – 121 Rue de Lille, Paris.
” ‘And if we move in the space… space and the body are connected to each other in a unity that cannot be decomposed.’
(Quote by Oskar Schlemmer, 1928)
The collection emerges the immediate relationship between the body and its environment. It is to be considered as the pre-line of the collection “Movement memories” (2016). Based on a detailed observation of the space each outfit reflects parts of the environment regarding shapes and textures. This work emphasizes my inner urge to make people aware of their surroundings and relate to what they see. “
- Lisa Förster
Collection: Lisa Förster
Photography, make-up & hair: Sunanda Koning
Model: Jaleesa @ De Boekers
Location: Burgers’ Zoo Arnhem
For more on Lisa’s Work, please visit her website.
In 2013, I was part of a group of ArtEZ Fashion Masters students who worked together on a project titled ‘Please Touch.’ The weekend long live-creation and exhibition of the sculpture was part of the Arnhem Mode Biennale. The base construction of wood was covered in textile — deconstructed toiles, reassembled fabric swatches and students’ collection pieces — and connected to the exhibition space in various techniques, such as knitting, embroidery and crochet. It was then painted white and covered in actual edible candy.
The idea behind the project was to show fashion can cover more areas than just garments, and investigate the spaces fashion can take place in or be part of. Although garments were part of the construction, the result was not a ‘piece of clothing’ but rather a ‘piece of art.’ Here, fashion entered the public space as an istallation. But rather than being a museum piece, closely monitored and not to be touched by onlookers, this sculpture invited its audience to actually feel it, touch it, lick it even. The candy could be tasted and eaten. But in combination with textile & fibers, paint, plastics and beads, who would dare?
We decided to challenge the almost sacred status of museum pieces by naming the exhibition ‘Please Touch,’ and to test if it would make visitors feel free to do so.
A while ago, I was commissioned by ArtEZ Fashion Masters to shoot a photo series, using designs by Fashion Masters students.
Students Lisa Förster, Hee Kim and Sunna Örlygsdóttir used different types of wool, sponsored by The Woolmark Company, to realize a number of garments or looks in their first year / second semester collections.
ArtEZ Fashion Masters educates students to be very critical of, and constantly reflect on, their work, in order for them to develop a distinct approach, taste and design philosphy. This was very clear from the garments the 3 students designed – each had their own distinct look – but they somehow worked together very well. I think the colors (a pale blue, royal blue and aubergine palet) had something to do with that. And of course, the quality of the work — Lisa’s design, a powder blue coat, featured crocheted cuffs and well placed details; Hee’s long, flowly dress was designed using moulage (a draping technique); Sunna’s dress had intricate leaf-like embellishment details of cut, folded and embroidered fabric strips. (Both Hee and Sunna are nominated for the Frans Molenaar Couture Prize 2016!).
I decided to photograph in national park Veluwezoom. On a very cold day, the colors of the landscape and sky contrasted beautifully with the colors of the designs.
Styling: Djovrie Krus
Model: Yu Lun Wong
The following is a text I wrote to describe the idea behind my collection:
“‘Kū’ is about transitions – a celebration of life and death and the stories we leave behind after we pass away. After death, in the memories of others, we’re better, bigger, faster, stronger than we were in reality. Our beauty may well be in our decay; our impermanence and fragility.
In the book ‘Heavenly Bodies,’ skeletons mostly from the Roman catacombs lavishly decorated and put up as saints in various churches are portrayed. Given a new life after death, to serve as an example of what awaits for those who live a ‘good’ life. A kind of eternity in transience.
I tried to capture this duality within silhouettes – large shrouds or lush caftans, in fabrics, colors and materials – a high-quality (but slightly boring) llama wool blends into a plastic mix fabric, ton-sur-ton red lurex merges into a red wool by way of sequins, plastic bottles become deathly flowers, embroidered with Czech glass beads and drinking straws. Dead stock items such as jeans and reworked sunglasses are added as styling components.
Through a labour of love, by carefully reworking fabrics and trash materials, new life, value and meaning is given to the perishable.
As I was thinking of a way to shoot a photographic series, that would stay true to the meaning of my collection, offer an insight into an array of characters (more or less compatible / in line with the outfits), and bringing an ‘ode’ to their lives, I felt regular portraits was not the way to go. Not because I don’t like portraits – I really like them, in fact, and often see beauty in people’s unique features – but because portraits would display too much of a real person, a living person.
We as viewers, with our bias and life experiences, would automatically fill in the blanks on each of these people. You can tell so much from a face, like what kind of social standing a person has just by looking at their glasses, or what kind of political point of view they have by looking at their haircut, jewelry and expression. We might not be right, but we make all these assumptions based on our personal experiences – this person must be successful, kind, rich, trashy, happy, depressed. In the viewer, that could evoke jealousy, admiration, ambivalence. And so on. It was something I wanted to avoid. Because I didn’t want the photos to be about the ‘models’, and because I wanted each viewer to be able to fill in his own story on the meaning of the photos, without pre-judgment.
So I tried to find a way to make people look at portraits, without bias, without judgment. To see someone, but have as much as possible, an open minded opinion about them. Maybe even no opinion at all, leaving enough room to wonder and fantasize.
Focusing on hands might make it easier for people to make a personal connection to a portrait.
The way I decided to take on this challenge, was by shooting ‘portraits’ of hands. I asked people to wear one of my garments, sit down, and put their hands in their lap. Then I asked them to just start making small movements and gestures that came natural. I would ask questions like, ‘how would your hands move if you asked someone, ‘hey, what’s that?’’ and took pictures while their hands started wandering.
This approach worked really well. The people I asked were of different ages and backgrounds. Some hands had visibly had a life of labor, others were well-groomed and smooth. Some were hairy, some dry, some hands wore jewelry or were tattooed.
But what I think works about the series, is that people can relate the way those hands look to people they know.
Faces are easy to remember and judge, they are the thing you look at when meeting or talking to people. Even in web & software developments, focus is on
the facial features – like facial recognition software for tagging friends on social media websites.
But hands are different. You only really know what the hands of people close to you look like. Maybe you’ll remember the hands of someone you vaguely know, because of a very specific, uncommon feature, like a tattoo, extreme manicure, or a big scar. But you can probably only recognize the hands of your family, close friends and people you meet regularly. Your colleagues at work, the cashier at your local grocery. You’ll know exactly the liver spots on your (grand)mother’s hands, the chubbiness of your father’s, your friend’s crooked pinky finger, the eczema on your kid’s wrist.
The pictures, with significant details like skin tone and structure, the shape and length of nails, arm hairs, wrinkles and knuckles, represent not a specific person, but help people relate to either themselves or a person they might know, and create their own individual narratives.
With this series, my aim was to create open, bias- and judgment-free, democratic portraits. Even though the collection is about the connection between life and death, the photos are actually a celebration of life, of diversity, of the beauty in our differences and how personal features are a thing we should be proud of – and not try to fit in to the status quo of the fashion & beauty industry standards.
The collection functions as a backdrop, color and fabric of the garments create a mood and the hands themselves put focus on the handwork and details. It’s a series of photos that have ‘fashionable ingredients,’ but those function in a ‘supporting role.’ Feeling and atmosphere are more important.
The photographs are presented with the names of the ‘hand owners,’ as a link to actual portrait photography.
The ‘Collage’ series stems from a desire to see what other people think are the most interesting features or ingredients of my collection and imagery.
I have my own preferences of course, but wondered if those were indeed regarded as the most interesting elements by others, too. Or if they were based on personal taste, or on the fact that some things took more time and effort than others.
It would be nice to be surprised by other artists’ or designers’ views on my work – that’s why I chose to invite an artist for a collaboration.
Anneloes Brunt worked as a designer, and now focuses mainly on print & illustration. Her work is interesting, because she uses collage techniques to create new images. She reuses old magazines and cuts out elements she likes. She incorporates body part in most of her collages, that take on new shapes and functions – giving the illustrations a slightly surreal feeling.
I really like her way of reinventing both existing materials and the human form. By adding a new purpose to things we normally never reconsider, she makes people look and think twice about what it is they see.
I had a lot of imagery (runway, look book, detail photos) and asked her if she would be interested in giving it a ‘treatment.’ I know and love her work, so I didn’t give her any instruction – I was sure she’d come up with illustrations that would surprise me, and make me take another look at my collection and design ingredients.
She approached the illustration series as ‘sets’ – as I presented 7 outfits, she made 7 illustrations that each mainly concentrated on 1 of the outfits. She added fingers, hands, legs to interact with the cut-outs from the ‘Kū’ imagery. The result is a series of illustrations that are at first glance funny – a little hand holding a detail of hand woven fabric that kind of looks like a fish – but upon further inspection take on a deeper meaning (when the ‘fish’ becomes a talisman, carefully held between thumb and index finger).
My favorite ‘discovery’ is that through this collaboration, I found out that others see with fresh eyes, and can take the liberty of altering design ingredients, without being held back by an emotional attachment. That re-opened my eyes to new possibilities and options.
The idea behind my series ‘Zoomed in’ is very simple.
I wanted to move even further away from the style.com-like images of model on a runway. Websites like style.com that display runway photography do occasionally have an additional tab for ‘details,’ but those are usually reserved for the big names and then still focus on shoes, bags and make-up. Sometimes you’ll find a good view on special lapels or buttonholes, but those images are rare.
I think that’s a shame. Details are as important as silhouettes, accessories or styling. Details are often a binding factor in a collection, and make or break garments from up close. They establish luxury and uniqueness.
For fashion consumers, there are so many designers to choose from – details are often a decisive factor in buying from one designer, or choosing another.
They also show a designer’s taste and craftsmanship, and have (probably) received al lot of attention during the design process.
That’s why we need more close-up pictures, showing fabrics, prints, finishings, knits, structures, buttons, beads, zippers, pockets, darts, embellishments, embroideries, and so on.
In this series, the zoomed-in images show nothing but intricate details; the hours of handwork that went into each garment made visible.
The pictures themselves are like ‘moods’ or ‘style indications’ and could serve as inspiration for the development of embroideries, prints or other (surface) designs.
The series ‘Self(ie)’ touches on a number of issues I wanted to challenge.
The first is the relationship between the maker and her collection. Unlike artists, who do personal show openings, readings, signing sessions, private interviews etcetera, most designers are remarkably absent in their presentations. They work on their collections for months. towards a show moment last lasts at best 10 minutes, and maybe make a bow at the end of the show. Then of course a few questions backstage, and it’s all over. The designer has to let go of his/her latest project, as the commercial circus begins, and the design cycle starts all over.
Maybe that lack of visibility (save some ‘star designers’) is because of the way fashion is perceived – as something meant to last only a short time. As opposed to art, which is perceived to have a kind of eternal value.
Of course most brands are commercial and want to make money – but don’t artists too? I guess the notion of the struggling artist, spending his last money on a tube of paint, is still prevalent, whereas designers are looked upon as a bunch of party going glamour pusses, interested in money and fame. But fashion designers work really hard, dealing with constant pressure and deadlines. They work really hard, and then, after a few brief show minutes, have to let go of their work and move on.
I thought it would be interesting to see how the relationship between designer and collection could develop after the show. What if he/she took on the role of not only designing a concept for a photo shoot, but also that of the model – the wearer of the collection?
Would it be awkward or uncomfortable? Would it show the love for the work he/she did? Would it even fit?
I personally wanted to test this. My collection was made by me, but not for me. It sprang from my imagination, but I did not design it with ‘me’ (as wearer) in mind. Not with anyone specific in mind, I guess, as I designed the looks more as an ode to life and love. So in that sense, I wouldn’t feel like I’d have to take on a different role. I wanted to feel what it was like to wear my own clothes, not late at night in the studio to check something, but in front of a camera – so I would have to think about presenting my garments in a way I wanted them to be seen. And at the same time, show the viewers of the photographs who was behind this – not a generic model, but a real person, with flaws.
That said, there was another thing I wanted to test.
Many pictures on social media these days are selfies. The selfie as a phenomenon, is interesting. It allows ordinary people to claim the role of model, while self-selecting how they look and what they show. Of course they’re hardly ever an accurate representation of reality. I wanted to challenge the current obsession with selfies as a way of creating a public persona. What do you show of yourself and why?
I decided to wear a wig in the photos. Not because I hate my hair (though of course, it could be better) but just because I could. If these are the pictures I show the world, I can be the designer of my look too – using identity as a performative act. And the photographer photoshopped my pimples into silky smooth skin.
This series shows photographs of me, taken by a portrait/documentary photographer. I designed the concept, and asked a stylist to check on the details during the shoot. The pictures were taken in my own house. They investigate the relationship between the designer/maker and her collection, the (un)ease of wearing the garments. They are shot with artificial lighting, in a realistic style – sometimes bordering on humorous, banal or slightly surreal.
Styling + Hair: Djovrie Krus
Photographer: Ernst Coppejans
Ernst worked as a product designer for 8 years before deciding to change careers. The turning point came when he went to India on a work trip. He visited a factory in where children were sitting on the floor, bent over green fire, welding candelabras for Christmas. The scorching heat made it difficult to breathe. He walked out – of the factory and of the industry he looks back on as destructive and toxic.
He now works as a photographer, and won the Zilveren Camera in 2014 for his portrait series ‘Dans le Milieu’.