Dutch fashion label Ninamounah’s latest short captures the awkward tension of adolescence
Ninamounah Langestraat didn’t take a conventional route into fashion. Having previously studied taxidermy and biology, the Amsterdam-based designer – who goes simply by Ninamounah – eventually moved into textile design, before trying her hand at clothing. Her fascination with biology still plays a massive part in her work, though. Often, her collections are less about the actual clothes and more about the flesh that eventually makes its way inside them, as she explores the freedom and constraints of the human body (and psyche) through her esoteric, sensual, and sometimes erotically charged collections.
“My work is really a reflection on being human,” she explains. “It’s like research into or a discussion on why we do things, why we feel certain ways, how we carry our bodies, why we look the way we do.” Collection 001, released last year and entitled Mother Nature Is A Slut, featured structured, cropped shirts that revealed just an inch of flesh above a waistband, restrictive leather pencil skirts with taught, full-length zips, butt-flashing cut-out trousers, and tiny vinyl shorts.
Collection 002, meanwhile, dives headfirst into the awkwardness and strange feelings surrounding teenage sexual awakenings. “It’s called Hormones Are My Master, because at that time they really are,” she laughs. “I think it’s one of the most interesting phases in your life – you know, you go into this kind of grey zone where you’re not a child any more, your body is changing, but you’re also not a grown-up.”
“My work is really a reflection on being human. It’s like research into or a discussion on why we do things, why we feel certain ways, how we carry our bodies, why we look the way we do” – Ninamounah Langestraat
The idea of the body's metamophosis manifested itself in huge, knitted mohair suits inspired by newly sprouted body hair, and pieces that borrow from school uniforms. “A lot of the clothing taps into stereotypical uniform tropes, but obviously in this case the purpose is taken away,” says Langestraat. “What’s so interesting about uniform is that it’s meant to be asexual, it needs to be neutral. But in doing that it becomes hyper-sexual. So we played a lot on that.” Also on the line-up are shirts, short, pleated skirts, and tight t-shirts designed with the changing body in mind.
Having previously worked with SHOWstudio to create visuals that further brought her vision to life, this time around the designer joined forces with German photographer Florian Joahn on a short film which perfectly encapsulates the tension, weirdness, and humour that surrounds burgeoning sexuality. Set in the classrooms and corridors of an actual school (“It had this weird sweaty smell that you only really remember from school”) models wearing the collection writhe on and become one with leather sofas, hands emerge from lockers for quick fumbles, and, when a rush of hormones seem to get the better of him, one individual humps a pillar by some stairs.
Elsewhere, one is tied to a chair Shibuya-style and and wheeled across the floor of a deserted hall, turning what is essentially a childhood prank into a moment loaded with meaning. “All these normal things suddenly become weird and awkward when you hit a certain age, and I think that’s what was so fascinating to me,” surmises Langestraat. “You can’t sit on your dad’s lap any more. You don’t want to get undressed in front of your parents. Sex scenes on TV become engrossing in totally different ways. I was really inspired by how much impact hormones have on our beings, on ourselves – they really do become our masters.”
Watch the full film above.