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Woody ‘S-Gravemade graduate collection
Woody ‘S-Gravemade graduate collection

Ones to watch from the Hague’s Royal Academy of Art show

From a collection that merged Islamic and Dutch culture, to one that called for environmental action – here are the highlights of The Hague’s 2016 grad show

Taking place in the De Electriciteitsfabriek warehouse space, last month saw the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague’s students present their work at the institution’s end of year show. Showcasing the work of students from the Fashion and Textile department’s four-year programme, it was the masters’ collections that made the most noise. Using fashion as a platform to critique the world, collection references ranged from environmental issues and European immigration, to gender inequality and the impact of social media and digital spaces on IRL relationships.

Show highlights included Sarah Lauwaert, whose “I Need To Be Protected” collection called for environmental action and consideration, and Woody ‘S-Gravemade, whose collection explored the contrasting cultures of Europe and the Middle East. As this year’s graduate shows come to an end, here are the five names you should be taking note of.

NADIE BORGGREVE: “EMOTIONAL HOARDER”

Nadie Borggreve centred her graduate collection around ‘hoarders’ who collect things based on emotional attachment. Aptly titled “Emotional Hoarder”, Borggreve wanted to show how “human beings collect lifelong memories and emotions”. “My collection is a visual display of my vision of the process of hoarding – as if the wearer wants to escape the disorder, but the pieces of clothing are clinging on to him,” she explained. Presenting eight silhouettes, each in a singular colour way that centered around draping and moulage, Borggreve merged various pieces of clothing into singular ensembles that ranged from an all pink look that incorporated a pillow at the neck, to a tangerine-hued duvet-like structure suggestive of emotional baggage.

SARAH LAUWAERT: “I NEED TO BE PROTECTED”

Sarah Lauwaert’s graduate collection represents an image of the world in the future, in which we have lost the North Pole. “I feel strongly connected to the North Pole and therefore I am using this as my chance to raise attention to what is happening to it,” she explained. “My aim is to create garments that protect our bodies and minds from environmental catastrophes and the loss of a faraway, sublime place.” Presenting inflatable jackets that read “Mind Your Step” and reflective silver outerwear emblazoned with the slogan “I Need To Be Protected”, Lauwaert is using fashion as a platform to voice her environmental concerns. “Through this collection I am hoping that people reconsider the value of the North Pole and develop a deeper concern for it.”

JENSKE SYPKENS-SMIT: “KEEP YOUR MOUTH CLOSED, YOUR COMMENTS CLOSER”

“It started with a big feeling of ‘fuck off’ towards comments made online,” said Jenske Sypkens-Smit of her graduate collection, referring to social media and the way it has come to distort “first impressions”. “Offline, the first impression is an interaction between two people, whereas online it’s a one-way interpretation,” she explained. “People create an image of you before getting to know you in person.” Translating this void between digital and IRL interaction into a series of Instagram-filter hued digital prints, Sypkens-Smit has created a womenswear collection that comprises of avant-garde silhouettes that distort the female form.

BERTA POUS INFANTE: “IK WIL NOG FREAKEN”

Titled “Ik Wil Nog Freaken”, Berta Pous Infante described her graduate collection as her “personal revolution against the world we have to live in”. “Our present world is dominated by a sense of always lacking time, on missing out on things,” she explained. “It is a world where we run rather than walk, talk rather than have conversations, fight rather than discuss.” Focusing on the beauty of hand-craftsmanship, along with the contrast between material and immaterial resources, Pous Infante’s collection played out as a series of delicate mesh and wool appliquéd dresses, unique hand-woven jackets and colourful two-piece configurations in exotic colour ways.

WOODY ‘S-GRAVEMADE: “DUTCH CULTURE”

Woody ‘S-Gravemade took inspiration from Western and Middle Eastern cultures for his graduate collection. “I wanted to melt these two worlds together, to make one singular culture,” he explained. “Dutch-Moroccan youth culture is also a big inspiration for this collection – the guys who wear their djellabas with typical European clothes such as shiny padded jackets and the high-fashion Italian brands.” Working with draperies and fabrics such as polyester and plastic, ‘S-Gravemade merged traditional Islamic silhouettes with those synonymous with Europe. Think boys in shiny padded and hooded capes stomping down the runway, whilst others wore red and blue printed layers, inspired by cheap plastic market bags commonly known as “Turkentas” in Dutch.