SELLING THE PAST AS THE FUTURE

TEXT: WOJCIECH TRZCIONKA, PHOTOS: JOHANNES SCHWARTZ AND WOJCIECH TRZCIONKA

ROTTERDAM 7.4.2016

EVENTS FASHION

Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam confronts us with a fundamental question: what is contemporary fashion and whom does it really serve?
Is it only a reflection of the past and a source of speculations – or still a phenomenon? What troubles the designers’ minds? Whom does it all really serve? What is the user’s role – are they still objects that need to be dressed or already nothing more than piggy banks that the clothing companies are trying to steal and break?

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A photo of a drawbridge, which resembles a road going high up to the sky, seems to be completely unrelated to the topic of fashion at a first glance. But what if...? It’s Erasmus – a bridge in Rotterdam, where Het Nieuwe Instituut has opened the first Temporary Fashion Museum in the Netherlands (it was launched in autumn 2015 and will operate till May 8th, 2016). To me and the organizers, fashion is a bit like that bridge: it’s a road to nowhere. A total confusion. Someone told me recently that fashion was like inception from the famous movie and that the bridge resembled it a bit. Let’s try, then, to infiltrate the structure of the mind and reach the beginning of the idea created by the brain.

Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam has decided not to cut corners. It hasn’t organized another exhibition about fashion with a red carpet and a wall serving as a photo background for celebrities known only for their fame. It hasn’t concentrated on vanity and products, but on fundamental and relevant questions. The first Temporary Fashion Museum in the Netherlands, opened in September, is aimed at making us think twice or even thrice before we buy something next time. The Museum involves us in a debate as well as forces us to reflect or even try on and buy – but there’s always an implied, hidden meaning in it.

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Anne van der Zwaag, a young Dutch designer, reckons that fashion will continue to exist in two worlds, fast and slow, but the latter one will develop. She gives herself as an example: “100-150 customers a year are enough for me to be well-provided for. I don’t have to go crazy and do several collections. I used to think of Paris and big catwalks, but I have ultimately chosen Amsterdam and the world that is truly mine.”

“Fashion people are becoming editors. We, the customers, are designers ourselves and the editors are supposed to help us select an outfit,” Elisa van Joolen, a young designer, describes the direction in which Dutch fashion is heading. The slow style is also supposed to make us give up shopping at all. Clothing lending places pop up like mushrooms in the Netherlands (and beyond). I’m in such a place – one of the first in Amsterdam; its founders call it a Library. “You can borrow something just for a night or for a month. Why would you buy anything? We get bored with clothes, so it’s better to give them back afterwards,” argues Diana Jansen, one of Library founders.

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What can be seen at fashion weeks in Milan, Paris, London or New York – novelties, catwalks, glitter and a vanity fair – cannot be found in Het Nieuwe Instituut, either. Instead, you will begin asking yourselves about the purpose of making one collection after another and if someone is trying to make a fool of you. “Everything has already been invented in fashion, but designers are still trying to prove to us that they ‘revolutionize’ the notion of innovation. How? By renewing old patterns? Trying to sell us the past as the future?” Guus Beumer, director of Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, is somewhat irritated as he shows me around the exhibition. “Fashion has found its own model of prolonging itself using the past as an infinite source of inspiration for the future.”

The Dutch are famous for exhibitions which tend to confront, ask and educate rather than show things in an obvious, superficial way. We all know this from Ventury Lambrate, where Dutch schools and workshops present themselves during Milan Design Week, showing us new trends and directions. You won’t find there easy questions or answers: each topic is explored in depth, as if put through a wringer.

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“This way the Dutch are killing fashion. They show it in a pragmatic way and deprive it of our Italian romanticism and beauty, which are foundations of fashion, after all. Being an Italian, I don’t like it, but I appreciate the educational aspect,” says Alessandro Gualieri, a perfume maker for a niche brand Nasomatto, as we meet at the vernissage of the Temporary Fashion Museum. He lives in Amsterdam because “people work too much in Italy”.

“This exhibition is like Dutch fashion: functional and showing that boundaries don’t exist. Why functional? Well, a Dutch woman must feel comfortable when travelling by bike. Functionalism is the basis of our society,” says Cruden, a Dutch designer.

The Temporary Fashion Museum examines the phenomenon of fashion in all its surprising forms and aspects including the dark side – the negative social and ecological impact. www.hetnieuweinstituut.nl

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#rotterdam #welovethiscity Zdjęcie zamieszczone przez użytkownika Design Alive (@design_alive) 12 Wrz, 2015 o 5:54 PDT