“His Majesty prefers pigs”

Anouk van Klaveren digs into fashion’s manipulative game.

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As the last member of Das Leben am Haverkamp to chat to Glamcult, Anouk van Klaveren was happy to dish out her creative details. Having graduated from the KABK in 2013, the young designer has been establishing a name for herself and her collective; most recently showing a shimmering collection at Amsterdam Fashion Week. Talking jewellery made from human hair, fashion’s illusion of hierarchy and her latest work, Anouk confirmed that fashion has meaning.

Could you tell us about PROJECT 000 005, your newest venture?

PROJECT 000 005 – ‘His Majesty prefers Pigs’ is an ongoing project for which I created a script about an imaginary tribe. The project consists of a series of performances, a fictive rite of animal adoration and devout characters dressed in unisex clothing, masks and jewellery. For the show in Amsterdam I was excited to collaborate with performance collective Driewieler Collectief. Together we created a performance based on the characters that I imagined for PROJECT 000 005.

We’ve heard that some of your work incorporates human hair.

In a way I create anonymous characters that are nothing but their clothes. Working with human hair in my jewellery influences the way the spectator perceives the anonymity of the silhouettes. Hair adds a piece of another person’s identity to the veiled bodies I display: as a façade, created by another’s identity.

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You’ve previously said that you “find it interesting how fashion creates an illusion of structure and hierarchy.” Why is that?

Fashion is an inevitable cultural expression in today’s world. Even if you wouldn’t describe yourself as someone who is into fashion, you are defining yourself with what you wear. This expression is always very much related to a cultural collective memory, full of connotations and information about background, gender, religion, profession or subcultural nuances—in this sense, fashion creates a social structure. Every box of the system has its own written and unwritten rules. Capitalism loves this and prospers from it, selling others’ social construct to the willing consumer. However, this structure and hierarchy is something that can only exist because we believe in it and we acknowledge it as something desirable. In this sense, it is just a collective myth: an illusion we are most willing to believe in.

What is it about your work that plays with western cultural norms and expectations in regard to fashion?

I like to work with materials that have a strong cultural connotation. This can be a classical checked tweet, or the use of pearls and gold. Jewellery is something that really interests me, as it has nothing to do with the practical aspect of clothing, but merely has a symbolic and decorative function: schmuck. After my graduation I specialized in jewellery design and started working as a goldsmith. For the last year, jewellery has become a very important part of my projects.

You have said that “clothes and property can become a tool” to measure someone’s wealth. With your work, are you hoping to break down the ability to assume someone’s financial or intellectual wealth through what they wear?

I mix a lot of materials that refer to stereotypical ways of dressing, in the textiles, shapes and techniques. Within my current collection I refer to tailored men’s jackets, religious ceremonial robes and urban caps: like a blend of the cultural, idealistic and aesthetic expressions you’d see during a midnight bicycle ride through the city. I am looking for this moment of an undefined, uncertain emotion while being confronted with my work; the observer won’t be able to judge, indicate or define. The result is a sort of anonymity and a certain abstraction, which exceeds any notion of cultural background or gender. It is not necessarily that I want people to dress this way, but I do hope that people become more aware of the fact that fashion is just an example of a very manipulative game, ran by those currently in power.

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www.anoukvanklaveren.com

www.daslebenamhaverkamp.com

 

Words by Lottie Hodson

Photography: Imke Lighthart