The Amsterdam Fashion Week started off with shimmering couture, flowering dresses and avant-garde conceptualism. Claes Iversen showed the chicest of chic, as we were expecting from him, with a smart mix of minimalism and romanticism. Marga Weimans, on the other hand, had created a beautiful, yet challenging collection, heavily loaded with references to the history of slavery and the suppression of women.
Iversen’s show started off with very stark and minimal garments in which the models seemed protected against the worst the world would have to offer. During the show more and more details started to pop and eventually fake flowers bloomed on shoulders, skirts, covering whole dresses. The collection, gradually shifting from this stark minimal aesthetic to extravagant flower embossed gowns, seemed to tell a story of fashion history, going from the minimalism of the nineties to the new romanticism we see nowadays. Ending with lavish flowers, the collection could be interpreted as a statement for more sensibility and feeling in fashion, forecasting an end to the strict minimalism we saw the last few years on the runway.
Claes Iversen SS 2013, copyright Peter Stigter
Although Iversen seemed to take a stand against minimalism, strong minimalistic influences were evident. His play with volume, proportion and the strong architectural shapes reminded of Céline, the combination of different textiles of Balenciaga. The romanticism, the flowers, the pleading and beading, signified influence of the likes of Viktor&Rolf and Lanvin. All these different vibes and movements combined into one collection resulted in a rather confusing show: what direction had Iversen planned to go?
Although slightly all over the place, Iversen’s show was one of the chicest collections of all fashion week. In the past, Iversen’s work sometimes was too ‘old’ for the young girls showing it, this year, however, the garments were wearable for all ages. Dresses combining the two major themes of the collection, minimalism and romanticism, had a youthful dynamic vibe. These pieces, literally molded together in asymmetrical compositions with the one half clean and simple, the other half blooming with sequins, beading and flowers, said everything Iversen had to say with this collection. There is no need to pick a side, Iversen seems to state, we just need to combine the best of both worlds. Curiosity rises for his next collection, for no matter how interesting this juxtaposition of minimalism and romanticism might be, it certainly needs some more research.
Weimans raised the bar with a highly conceptual and avant-garde collection. As expected Weimans did not just present fashion, the runway looked like a walking work of conceptual art. The prints of the dresses were strongly reminiscent of traditional Surinam costume, while the upper body reminded of 18th century court dress. This connection between the colonies and aristocratic Europe was even more accentuated by the metal and wood constructions the models were shackled in. Although the first one looked it a bit like a suitcase, the later ones could only be seen as abstract interpretations of torture machinery. Counting up all this symbolism - Surinam, 18th century Europe, captivity in metal framework - one could easily conclude that Weimans was referring to her Surinam heritage, and especially the slavery that took place during that era.
Marga Weimans couture 2012, copyright Peter Stigter
There are, however, more layers in Weimans’s collection. The tightly corseted bodies of the dresses, the enclosure of the models in metal torture frames and the incredibly high shoes by Jan Jansen also signaled the suppression of women. As the models opened the frames during the finale and stepped out of their cages, a sense of feminism overcame us. The women freed themselves.
Under the classical corseted bodies a crinoline would not be out of place. However, Weimans placed geometrical shapes underneath the billowing skirts, creating completely new shapes and silhouettes. The visual language she showed with this collection is an utterly different sound in the world of Dutch fashion. Originality and an intellectual depth are what separate Marga Weimans from the rest. No wonder that, without ever having showed before on Amsterdam Fashion Week, Weimans already has international fame. Having showed during two Paris haute couture weeks, multiple museum exhibitions and a vast part of her work being bought by the Groninger Museum, she is definitely one to watch.