The distance that separates London from Amsterdam is after all a short one. The two great capitals share many historical and cultural connections, yet one cannot help but notice clear differences in the creative talents which emerge from the two cities.
The city of Amsterdam set in the flat landscape of the Netherlands provide a unique urban experience. The North Sea is close by, omnipresent yet remote. The city stands a mere 2 metres above sea level requiring an imposing dam to protect it from high tides. Amsterdam main characteristic may be its concentric canals or Grachtengordel, now on the UNESCO World Heritage List, built during the city golden age, in the 17th-century, for defence, water management and transport. Sea and canals imprint a city both opened to the world yet proud of its identity.
2010 was ranked 13th worldwide for its quality of living and in 2009 3rd for innovation. This is proof, if proof was needed of the creative dynamism of a city which now plays a major role in the fields of interior design, gaming, fashion, and architecture.
Since the mid-1990s, Dutch fashion designers, working for luxury labels (Viktor & Rolf, Spijkers en Spijkers, Iris van Herpen and Klavers van Engelen amongst others) or ready-to-wear brands (G-Star, Sandwich, Gsus, JustB, McGregor) have met with growing acclaim on the world stage. Their approach to design, often qualified as conceptual, open-minded, pragmatic and process-oriented is honed in forward thinking Dutch Design and Art Academies.
With this issue Modeconnect will meet with recent graduates of two major education institutions in Amsterdam: the AMFI or Amsterdam Fashion Institute and the Gerrit Rietveld Academy named after the famous Dutch furniture designer and architect active during the first half of the XXth century. Students from both of these prestigious academies will be showing at this month’s Lichting which we shall also be covering. The Lichting is to an extent, the Dutch equivalent of London Graduate Fashion Week; it is a show which takes place during Amsterdam Fashion Week and includes the 2 best fashion students of the 7 top fashion schools in the country.
As in most country a number of organisations provide information and resources to the national fashion industry. The Dutch Fashion Foundation represents the interests Dutch fashion designers, at home but also abroad with projects under the name Dutch Touch.
The Dutch Design Fashion Architecture (DutchDFA) programme aims to building cross border collaborations with partners in China, India, Turkey and Germany in the fields of Fashion Design and Architecture.
Other national organisations relevant to fashion students and designers are MODINT, the fashion manufacturer trade association, Premsela, the Dutch Institute for Design and Fashion, and Sica the Dutch Centre for International Cultural Activities.
Finally www.design.nl, a website run by Premsela provides news and information on all areas of design in the Netherlands.