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It happened again: The FASHIONCLASH FESTIVAL 2021 took place between the 26 – 28. November in Maastricht, the idyllic capital of the Limburg province in the Netherlands. FASHIONCLASH is a showcase and development fashion platform and a global network of emerging fashion makers, which engages with key questions, such as how can fashion contribute to a better, healthier, and more inclusive society. For that purpose, the 3 days online and offline festival hosts a diverse and interdisciplinary program filled with fashion and theatre performances, talks, film screenings, workshops, and art exhibitions of which some are free, in order to explore, contextualize and celebrate contemporary fashion culture. Much attention was paid to inclusion, participation, social design and talent development.
The committed and hybrid mentality of the current generation of designers and artists could be felt at the Open Mic Night, a new festival program in which the participants literally took the free stage. This unique comedy club-inspired event aligns with the hybrid festival format. During the Open Mic Night, ten different designers and (performing) artists presented their work in the form of a fashion presentation or performance.
As a plus-size model, performer and actress Daphne Agten felt often confronted with people thinking she would take up too much space. Stylists did not have her size. Dance teachers disliked the way her body moved within space. As someone struggling with mental health issues, she was frequently perceived as too much, too intense. Her emotions were classed as too visible. This is what inspired Daphne Agten to create “Space Invader”, a performance piece, which renders body- and personality traits that we were taught to hide and tuck away, visible. The performance is joyous, moody, and highly visual. Its focus lies on breaking the habit of trying to take up as little space as possible, by taking up space, not just physically, but also socially and making people’s inside transparent. How this is going to work exactly will be a colourful surprise. “Space Invader”, which was re-enacted at the Fashionclash festival is an ode to those who are stigmatized as “too much”, thereby delivering a message to the fashion industry.
The Clash House, one of FASHIONCLASH's core projects, is a development program and showcase for innovative designers, focused on crossovers between fashion and other art disciplines. Participants are challenged to experiment with presentation forms in which storytelling and interaction are central. On Sunday evening, The Clash House was presented through performances, installations, film and discussion with the participants.
In hindsight, Nina Eijkhout identified comparing herself to the constant presence of the “online woman”, a woman with a beautiful body and an interesting life, as a source of insecurity during her teenage years. In order to address the issue of representing women in distorted and unauthentic ways, she created a film installation. The installation is a self-portrait of her trying to reach the online woman in an endless world, which represents the internet. However, Nina Eijkhout does also see the vast number of possibilities that the online world enables. That is why the installation consists of a sequence of weekly experiments, such as the usage of newly discovered filters and virtual reality worlds. Nina Eijkhout would like her artwork to be a catalyst for discourse and awareness on female representation, which is an urgent topic also within the contemporary fashion industry:
In recent years there has been an emergence of digital fashion and virtual presentations. Due to this trend a selection of fashion films from designers and makers were presented to capture a layered story and reach a wide audience through online platforms and media.
What seems at first sight like a normal department store, offering and advertising luxury goods, emerges at a second glance as an exhibition showcasing “hollow” objects under the speculative brand “Peach Tree, Ambiguous”. These objects were created by artist Anouk van Kleveren and aim at seeming functional, even though their actual functionality remains a mystery. When Anouk worked as a goldsmith, she first realized that the meaning of an object is not simply given by its creators but is a subject to capitalist logics. Ever since she has been interested in the power of objects and the process of meaning creation. When it comes to fashion, its symbolic value is most essential. Fashion seems often intertwined with our identities and evokes desires. These desires are created in a mystification process, in which stakeholders seem alienated from the actual product. For instance, writers advertise fashion, which they have most likely never seen nor worn before. Anouk van Klaveren’s exhibition in a boutique-like setting at the Fashionclash festival compartmentalized the manufacturing process of meaning within the fashion industry and reveals its absurdity in a humorous and intelligent way.
Nowadays Antoine Peters’ expressions shifts within fashion, art and architecture in which the relationship towards clothing and the human body are a binding factor. Playing with perception is an important theme in Antoine’s work. He believes the space around a garment is just as important as the piece of clothing itself. Disrupting the traditional relationship between spectator and object, with the goal to cause delay, imbalance and change of perspective, while causing a little smile.
Jens Wittwer, Lissy Reichenbach