It’s virtually impossible to miss the work of Barbara Langendijk, as one of her beautiful pieces currently graces the entrance hall of our New Fashion Perspectives exhibition. A former intern of Walter Van Beirendonck in Antwerp and Proenza Schouler in New York, the designer graduated from ArtEZ (NL) in 2013 and has been establishing her label—with a strong emphasis on craftsmanship—ever since.
What’s the story behind your pieces at New Fashion Perspectives?
I’m showing three pieces from different projects. One dress belongs to my Riches from Rags collection. Twisting the fabric created the shape of the dress, and a holy object from Japan made out of twisted rice straw inspired this technique. I also show a project I did in collaboration with Jochem Esser and Lisette Ros, questioning the definition of fiction, reality and fashion. The third is part of a project called For Sale. In this project I worked with fast fashion patterns and materials, and combined these with couture techniques. With the subtle clash this causes I want to emphasise the revaluation of handiwork and craftsmanship.
What does being a fashion designer in 2016 mean to you?
The world is very small now. It’s really easy to get connected through social media and for people all around the world to get to know your work. This is great but also challenging, because it forces you as a designer to constantly profile and brand yourself and/or your label, or maybe choose not to be involved in social media at all. Also I think with the growing awareness of global warming and us humans slowly destroying the earth, as young designers we should try to challenge the fashion system and think of different ways to approach materials, design and clients.
Is there anything specific that distinguishes your ideals or methodology from that of other artists?
I like to collaborate with artists from other disciplines and mix fashion with performance art, installations, music and dance. In my designs I like to play around with the construction of a garment. I enjoy finding new ways to make a garment, for example by twisting the fabric instead of using pattern pieces.
As a young designer, how do you feel about the current speed and state of fashion?
I try to question mainstream fashion by playing around with fast fashion patterns and materials, but I’m also trying to avoid the use of patterns at all to avoid waste. I am very interested in craftsmanship and incorporating craft and couture techniques into my designs. Through the development of performances and installations I intend to make the audience perceive fashion in a different way and play with expectations of fashion and a fashion show.
How do you think the theme of sustainability will develop in the near future?
I think material development will be very important, for example the development and improvement of natural fibres. But also I hope there will be a mentality switch—from buying a lot to buying less and better products.