If you hadn’t been all too aware of what the Royal Academy of Art The Hague’s Textile & Fashion Department has been putting out, allow us to formally introduce you. KNOTORYUS attended the annual graduate show "SHOW2016" and got up-close with the new wave of designers looking to make the industry ripple. Quenching!
Like its counterpart in Antwerp, the The Hague academy boasts a faculty roster any fashion student would be blessed to pick the brains of. With creative powers like department head Jurgi Persoons, original Antwerp Six member Marina Yee, Peter De Potter, Jan-Jan Van Essche, Hilde Frunt and many others guiding their process, it is no wonder the outcome is noteworthy. From his own graduation in '92 until shuttering his label in '03, Jurgi Persoons played a vital part in keeping Antwerp fashion headstrong, irreverent and downright thrilling creating indelible imagery with Inge Grognard and Ronald Stoops. The legacy of his label has inspired many young designers in the generations following the Six so it was nothing but good news that Persoons was appointed to take the reigns of the The Hague Textile & Fashion programme in 2013.
Thus, it should come to no one's surprise that I threw my phone - and quite nearly a grape Fritz-Kola – on the floor scrambling to my feet as Persoons himself came round to shake our hands before the show and thanked us for our previous words as alarm buzzers blared “That Just Happened” through my skull.
"SHOW2016" was held in the Electriciteitsfabriek, an impressive venue – not without it’s mortally perilous rusty manholes and balustrades though - adding to the drama and #fashiondanger of the evening. We received a personal tour of the 8 graduates’ collections explained by the students themselves, 2 of which focused on textile design.
What struck us most is how evident the amount of care Persoons has personally invested in his students is. Taking the time to personally introduce each graduate, more than once Persoons gave them the old stage coach arm crescendo, universal code for: “Speak up, kid! I want them to hear what you’ve got to say.” In a recent interview, Persoons stated he modeled The Hague after the Antwerp academy in the following way: "Ask yourself how you put your message out. Is it done in an accurate, current, innovative way? How do you take a stand? This drives the Antwerp department and to me, personally, those are also the important points." Perhaps even more evidently so, the graduates were keen to step outside of their own universes and pick global issues as the focal point of their collections. We saw designs inspired by the declining environment, the effects of social media, the current state of cultural integration, hoarding, social constructs and gender. Every single collection had a clear message.
Particular favourites were pieces from the only Belgian graduate Sarah Lauwaert's collection 'I NEED TO BE PROTECTED', whose blow-up neon trousers and top proved to be an instant photo magnet. Nadie Borggreve, who gave us a great purple cape moment, focused on the emotional concept of hoarding and themed each silhouette in a particular colour. Clear promise was also shown in Woody ‘S-Gravemade’s collection, drawing inspiration from the daily mesh of cultures The Netherlands contains and is enriched by.
If you enjoy looking a bit further and in less conventional places for a different kind of fashion pulse, you would do well keeping an eye on The Hague.