My latest contribution for the ACCESS magazine, The Hague based expat publication
They say fashion is a cultural barometer of our times. It gauges the zeitgeist of an epoch. In the 60-s, for example, the mini skirt and the flower power became the symbols of liberation, and in the 80-s it was all about “excess-orising” a la Dynasty – big hair, big shoulders, glitzy jewellery, only to be followed by Japanese minimalism and the deconstruction ushered in by the Antwerp six.
As society’s mirror, fashion reflects the cultural and social trends prevalent at a given time. So it is not surprising that when the financial crisis hit in 2008, the fashion world turned from bling and logo mania to sobriety and restraint.
Three years on and at the backdrop of sobriety a new trend is emerging: a flowering garden of earthly delights. Exotic blooms, prim roses, wildflowers and all sorts of floral prints ranging from huge motifs to stylized graphic patterns ruled the catwalks from New York to Paris, from London to Milan heralding the return of the pretty and the feminine. The trend has been so pervasive that even menswear has had a healthy injection of floral cheer.
With the advent of sunny days in The Hague gardening enthusiasts rush to their gardens and flower watchers get on their bikes to admire the blossoming bulbs: tulips, hyacinths, daffodils. Planted in orderly strips when in bloom they form a luscious carpet of vivid colours.
It seems that the fashion world got caught up in the flower garden as well. Check this season’s fashions, floral patterns bloom on everything: tops, bottoms, accessories. And not for ladies only! Menswear collections display an impressive assortment of floral delights.
Christian Dior’s parents wanted him to be a diplomat, but he dreamt of art and fashion. With a lot of persuasion and some help from his father he managed to start an art gallery. It was selling most avant-garde works of the time- Picasso, Cocteau, Braque.
After the War Christian Dior turned to fashion creating an entirely new look for women: tiny waist, voluptuous skirt, hourglass silhouette, referencing La Belle Epoque. It was inspired by his love of flowers and his vision of a flower woman.
Raf Simons who has been appointed Artistic Director at Christian Dior shares Monsieur Dior’s love of art. Next to his fashion career he buys art for his collector friend and collects art himself. He studied industrial design and thought of becoming a furniture designer. And then he saw a fashion show by a fellow Belgian- Martin Margiela in Paris. It left such a profound impact that he left furniture design for fashion. Thank you, Mr. Margiela, for giving the fashion world Raf Simons.
Well into my second year in The Hague where everything is planned weeks in advance, even meeting friends, I start getting afraid of losing spontaneity. Two weeks ago I opened my agenda and saw nothing but pages filled with meetings and appointments. More appointments, more deadlines…
Am I turning into some robotic performance machine? The inner voice was questioning. And that inner voice sounded annoyingly disappointed. In me and my pronouncements about cherishing the beauty of spontaneous moments, and following your heart, and … more of the kind. I had to prove him wrong. On the spur of the moment I decided that I needed a break and Antwerp would make a perfect destination.
Why Antwerp? It has always been on my wish list of cities to visit but I could never make time. So now I made time. Friday morning an hour and half on the train and there I was. In Antwerp.
‘There is too much of Dutch fashion shown everywhere, but, alas, very little sold,’ says Laura van Erkelens, founder of Fashion NL, an independent online and offline platform for promoting Dutch fashion.
A passionate champion of local talent van Erkelens is as committed to the Dutch fashion cause as they come. It all started during her student days at the Utrecht School of Visual Arts and Design when she worked on her graduation paper researching Dutch fashion identity and its perception internationally. Well, the conclusion of that research was not encouraging—the overall awareness of Dutch fashion was quite low. Ironically not only abroad but also in the Netherlands.