This year Fashionclash challenged its participants by asking them: “what is the role of cultural heritage in a globalised and constantly changing world and how are new generations of designers dealing with questions of cultural heritage?” These questions present an interesting paradox in itself. A world without borders would suggest a world wherein cultural heritage is shared and celebrated. Instead heritage and postmodernity often seem at odds, being subject of tension and controversy, driven by a strong desire to protect the integrity and continuity of cultural identity on one hand and an ideal of an open and global society on the other. With 150 international designers participating in a four-day program ranging from runways, performances, talks and exhibitions, the audience had the opportunity to look for clues and answers on questions involving heritage and diversity.
“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.” An actress throws in a line of Oscar Wilde at the opening ceremony, in a performance directed by Joost Horward and Nina Willems. An evening followed by dance, music and a défile of ethnical costumes from the students of the Antwerp Fashion department, The Hague’s KABK and a preview of designers Markéta Mrtišková, Linda Friesen and Georgian American designer Uta Bekaia.
RUNWAY & AWARDS
Over a hundred designers took the runway on Friday and Saturday amidst the industrial walls of the SAMdecorfabriek. Striking was however, the majority of commercial ready to wear collections, which seems to be a trending phenomenon under fresh and graduating designers. A few collections really stood out. Linda Friesen presented Twilight, a romantic couture collection of hand dyed gradient silk dresses and Tiffany bodices. Sanchez-Kane gave a political tour de force with a Mexican touch, featuring traditional Mayan xokbichuy (cross stitched) embroideries. A cap read “Macho Sentimental” and an other model’s head read “Don’t allow the world to make you into a bitter abusive asshole,” emphasizing the rise of feminism in modern Mexico.
Roman Ermakov surprised everyone with his vibrant live sculpture catwalk. Normally presenting his architectural costumes under blue light for an optical effect, Ermakov seeks to show the strong symbiosis between space, form and the human body as vehicle of transformation. Other talents to keep an eye on are Ting Gong from China, WUETRICHFUERST from Switzerland and 8CUFF, the avant-garde label of Seoul born and Hong Kong trained designer Sue Suh.
While Marcel Schlutt handed the Kaltblut Magazine award to Hermione Flynn, this year’s prestigious Fashionclash Talent Award went to the soft spoken and ultra talented designer Alessandro Trincone. Forming a bridge between Napolitan sartorial heritage and Nippon culture, the designer challenged traditional views of masculinity with draping and layers, pussy bows and knots. Here and there the emphasis of the garments was laid on the tight waists, symbolising strength and protection. Annodami was five minutes of beauty, harmony, fantasy and emotion- without words or loud images.
FORZA FASHION HOUSE
Is ‘fashion’ dead? How does the future of fashion look like? How can we preserve heritage and craftsmanship for the next generations? What is the state of creativity and why are there so many commercial collections among graduates? Industry professionals shared their knowledge and experience in a dialogue with the audience at the Centre Céramic during the first Forza Fashion House fashion talk. Officially opening its doors in January 2017 this was a fantastic first taste of Forza Fashion House, a new Fashionclash initiative in collaboration with Fashion Council NL and MAFAD. Among speakers were curator and author of Haute-à-Porter Filep Motwary, Kenneth Ramaekers of Modemuseum Hasselt, Amandine Giacome (NJAL), Martijn van Strien and Susanne Vegter (HTNK).
The festival closed with the Heritage Show on Sunday, with a fashion presentations and a series of performances directed by Studio Dennis Broek inspired by heritage, featuring the designs of Uta Bekaia, The Muslin Brothers, Pavlína Miklasová and many more.
The 8th edition of Fashionclash was a grand success and heralds a new chapter for the organisation with the opening of the Forza Fashion House, putting Maastricht on the map as a thriving fashion capital. In contrast to the superficiality of Amsterdam Fashion Week, Fashionclash has continuously managed to connect people with fashion by giving them an opportunity to be part of it and experience it as something more than a distant or elitist phenomenon- and in consequence it has and continues to bring many creative people from all around the world together.
With regards to heritage, the festival left solid clues. Like Fashion, heritage is about people and it is what keeps us grounded in a fast paced and increasingly globalised world. In the words of Persian couturier and architect Keyvan Khosrovoani “traditions should be honoured, but innovated for their continuity.” Heritage must be restored. But we can only achieve this collectively and without egotism. Maybe then we’ll see the comeback of couture and a stronger, renewed appreciation for embellishment and décor.