An introduction to Dutch couture
Dutch fashion designers may be somewhat overshadowed by their French and Italian counterparts, but these couture houses based in and around Amsterdam are equally worthy of our attention. Get acquainted with the very best.
Viktor & Rolf
The most globally recognised Amsterdam couture house is the work of Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, who prefer the term “fashion artists”, as their repertoire spans from ready-to-wear to fragrance and film.
The duo began their careers in Paris, where they return to present their seasonal collections, having since returned to Amsterdam to design. Viktor & Rolf shot to international stardom, captivating the world with their artistic take on haute couture. Tulle slashed with sculptural cut-outs, wearable (ish) framed artworks and a collection of towering cubist facial features are just a few of their outrageous creations.
Viktor & Rolf have always been most drawn to couture, where they can freely express the artists within. A constant in their designs is a sense of irony and humour – a piece is beautiful, then it’s shocking, then it’s funny, then it’s beautiful again. The designers themselves love to take part in the theatricality of the shows, treating a runway launch as a performance, and opting to be photographed as the mirror image of one another.
The more commercial ventures have proved to be equally successful. Since Flowerbomb dropped in 2005, you can catch a whiff of its heady sweetness on any fashionable city street. And in 2017, the new bridal collection, Viktor & Rolf Mariage, is set to melt hearts around the world with an assortment of bonded satin ball gowns and sleek asymmetric columns. Watch out, girls.
Iris Van Herpen
Iris Van Herpen trained under Alexander McQueen and the influence is immediately obvious. Her designs are futuristic, intricate, sculptural and exciting (see top image) – disregarding the deeply entrenched Dutch pragmatism for an unconventional aesthetic that has captivated imaginations around the world.
From a small atelier in Arnhem, Van Herpen conjures up the most exquisite visions, which range from glass-like transparent lace to tiny feathers of organza resembling moss on a tree. No matter how unusual the materials and techniques, her designs have an inherent elegance. The silhouettes flatter the female form and designs always hinge on the whimsical side of eccentric.
The couture collections are heavy on origami folds, laser-cut filigrees, 3d printing and molecular structure. Van Herpen thrives on unexpected materials, textures and making fabrics do things they wouldn’t normally do. Joining forces with artists is central to Van Herpen’s design ethos, and her collaborations include a lengthy list of prominent painters, sculptors, architects, musicians and photographers.
Jan Taminiau, of JANTAMINIAU, is a couturier whose sparkling detail and majestic cuts search The Netherlands’ rich design history for inspiration. His design atelier is tucked away in the village of Baambrugge, just outside of Amsterdam.
Taminiau’s mastery of the beautiful and the captivating stems from his upbringing among a family of antique dealers, and cites his grandparent’s attic as a treasure trove of inspiration. Whether it is a floor-sweeping skirt crafted from delicate petals of tulle, a dramatised collar or a flowing chiffon gown, every piece is juxtaposed with an unexpected quirk: a sequinned wrestling belt here, a dip-dyed colour clash there.
The designer trained under Olivier Theyskins, who headed Parisian fashion heavyweights: Rochas and Nina Ricci. JANTAMINIAU re-interprets the romance of these labels with his eccentric charm and wit. Worn by women as diverse as Rihanna and Queen Maxima, JANTAMINIAU has a wide-ranging appeal, and unsurprising, has picked up several prestigious design awards.
Stockists and sales information:
Iris van Herpen – International boutiques
JANTAMINIAU – Sales information on request