This emerging multidisciplinary Belgian designer and Antwerp Fashion Masters graduate crafts the colourful magic that is her eponymous label. In spite of having only produced two collections, it feels like Sofie Nieuwborg must be on her tenth, considering the talent she’s shown in her diaphanous creations of mesh and tulle. Forging a new fashion identity that is grounded in her fascination with the intricate workings of time, Nieuwborg stitches and embroiders age without secrecy. She packages and preserves delicate and dried flowers in fabrics as if to say, “Handle with care” and, “It will endure.” In the end, Nieuwborg crafts masterly and ever-relevant pieces that encapsulate all the themes that have fuelled her tactile creativity.
What was the concept behind your graduation collection?
Mastering is a philosophical reflection on the act of graduating with a lot of attention to time: the things that stay the same and the things that change; constants and variables. Saying goodbye to school and concluding what this time meant for me was a very emotional process. I took the chance to take everything I liked and to make it into a coherent story that tells a lot about my life and me.
We love the use of flowers in your collection. How did you come up with the idea of using them?
When I started the master year I was feeling very melancholic. I was very much dwelling in the past and not really connecting with the now. I am a flower person, and the act of drying flowers was always something hyper-melancholic to do for me. It’s a kind of way to deny that these flowers will perish and to try to capture something that does not last. So, following this thought, the flowers became part of the collection. I also liked the fragility because this forced girls that wore the pieces and me to handle them with extra care.
Your designs are rich in symbolism. What do all these elements, from colours to flowers, symbolize?
When you want to translate quite philosophical concepts into something like clothes, you have to find a way to do this. My solution was using symbolism. A blue cube would symbolise one’s deepest desires, fears, and pure inner self. Flowers symbolize the past and a melancholic sentiment for it. This symbolism gave me the possibility to get a lot out of my system. It was therapeutic to visually name certain things, and then use them as aesthetic elements in the collection.
What is it about the film Mulholland Drive that inspired your designs?
Mulholland Drive is a movie made of very different scenes in very different ways. At first sight there is no obvious connection and it’s seemingly random, but David Lynch makes you accept this eclectic mishmash of scenes. This inspired me to connect things that might not have an obvious connection—then I realized that I was the connection. The fact that I liked all these very different elements meant that I could still make it feel coherent.
Would you say your work is political at all?
My collections are not political even though it might be experienced as such because of my sloganistic use of text. I don’t care much for politics. I do reflect a lot on society and pop culture and what it means to be alive in 2017.
What would your romantic or ideal vision of the fashion industry entail?
Well, my most romantic vision of the fashion industry would be an industry with a lot more respect for crafts, creativity and durability. Also, more respect for humans would be welcome.