Following on from our interview with Dewi Bekker, Glamcult chatted to fellow Das Leben am Haverkamp member Christa van der Meer. Finding inspiration in folkloric traditions and the questionable definition of fashion, this designer remixes her eclectic ideas into—amongst others—giant garments for inflatable dolls. This is why.
Can you tell us a bit about Creamy Dream, the collection you showcased alongside the other members of DLAH?
I have a great curiosity about the concept of something we convincingly—but also sometimes with doubt—call fashion. Clothing enables you to express your identity and flaunt it. That is why I wonder, in what way is the clothing you wear connected to your identity? If clothing is not worn by a person but by an object, can it still be an expression of identity? And how does this relate to fashion? The collection Creamy Dream is a cheerful exploration of these questions.
What is it about flaunting your identity that you find important?
I don’t think flaunting your identity in relation to fashion is as important as it is interesting. Clothing is probably one of the most intimate things we use daily; there is almost nothing that gets closer to you. You wear it directly on your skin all day and it’s almost instrumental to communicate what you stand for and whom you identify with. Even if you don’t think about what you wear, it does say something about you.
What made you decide to present your work as a collective even though you all create individual collections?
We’ve been sharing a studio space since our graduation in 2013; it didn’t take a long time to discover that we all have a very similar approach to fashion. To name an example, we share a strong opinion about certain conventions in the fashion industry. We like to decide on our own pace and we are all interested in making people aware of the value of clothing instead of creating the sense of it being a disposable item. That is why we bring out a new collection only once a year, and it might be an addition to our previous one instead of a replacement.
Also, we take great pleasure in working in projects that are related to fashion in an unusual manner—like performances, organising an event in a supermarket or even curating an exhibition. These things offer other possibilities to make a statement and reinforce the Das Leben am Haverkamp universe. In addition to this, we believe that being with four enables the individual to have more impact, an increased impact towards the public, but also inwards as you always have three critical likeminded people around your work.
Can you tell us a bit about your creative process?
I usually start with a more conceptual question that comes from a personal interest. For this collection I wondered about the relation between fashion and expression of identity. Or more specifically, what happens when clothing is not worn by a person but by an object? With this kind of hypothesis in mind I look around for subjects and objects that bring me closer to answering that question and are visually interesting at the same time. For Creamy Dream these were the sky dancers that enabled me to separate fashion from a person and apply it to an object. Although this might sound quite scientific, it is overall an intuitive process with lots of sidetracks.
What do you enjoy about working in a collective with three other young creatives?
They keep things real! It’s very easy to drift away in your own world when you are a creative person and work alone. Dewi, Anouk and Gino are a constant source of critical reflection, support and inspiration. We share a lot and are all harsh and kind to each other, which brings us further. It’s quite an intense, almost family-like relationship. But for us, it’s a lot of fun.
You each have very different individual styles. What is it about this that you think makes your work complement each other?
Our themes overlap strongly but we each have a very personal design style. For instance, we are all quite engaged with folklore traditions and working with masks. We are all attuned to a more light or joyous tone, although the subjects can be heavy, which creates a certain tension when you see our work together. Our collections are like people in a romantic relationship, they belong together but you can’t really rationally explain why.
What is it about folkloric traditions that you find interesting in relation to fashion design?
Folkloric traditions are usually very personal to the people that keep it alive. Very often the folklore is either not influenced by fashion at all, or inspired by fashion from a long time ago and somewhat frozen in time. Both origins allow the tradition to develop in a very distinctive way that you cannot find anywhere else—sometimes a ritual and/or spiritual belief is connected to the clothing or costume—which feels like a time capsule and is a wondrous source of inspiration. For this reason we are going to collaborate with Zeeuws Museum this year to create an exhibition that is a response to their magnificent collection of Dutch folklore. Stay tuned!