Pin It
Ninamounah AW19 Evolve with Me collection PFW
Photography Nordine Makhloufi

Stetsons, spurs, and human saddles: cowboys come to Amsterdam

Subversive Dutch label Ninamounah explored dominance, submission, and the Wild, Wild West for AW19

Think of Amsterdam and it’s unlikely the first (or second, or third) thing to spring to mind would be cowboys. But last weekend, as part of Amsterdam Fashion Week, boundary-pushing label Ninamounah brought a little of the Wild West to the canal-lined city – with the debut of its latest collection Evolve Around Me.  

Setting out a manifesto for the Netherlands-focused chapter of fashion’s ongoing exploration of the aesthetic, the designer sent a gender-skewing collection of wool tailored suits, oversized vinyl coats, stonewashed denim bustiers, motorcycle leathers, and more than a few pairs of chaps and spurs out into the upper-floor salon of a traditional Dutch canal house, which was built in 1622. In the corner, artist Sam Andrea sketched the models as they leant against the walls and each other, and sat down on antique chairs. “He’s very post-punk in his attitude,” explains founder Ninamounah Langestraat. “His work’s a bit like Larry Clark’s, in that he captures the outsiders of society. His paintings offer a snapshot of the heat of the moment.”

Also on the line-up were (enormous) stetsons, silk neckerchiefs, (rootin’ tootin’) square ‘duck toe’ boots, and even a handbag that resembled a skinned frog, for those seeking to fully immerse themselves in cowboy culture come AW19. Perhaps most subversive of all, though, was a leather saddle designed in collaboration with Roel van Berkel for a human wearer: which likely comes as no surprise, given the Amsterdam-based label is fast becoming known for its exploration into human sexuality, and has more than a passing interest in all things kink.

“The Western influence on horse riding was something we felt most attracted to this season – the wildness and roughness speaks to us,” says Langestraat. “This time around, we wanted to dissect perceived human dominance. We’re primates ourselves, but we don’t see ourselves as animals, and as a species, we’ve colonised the animal kingdom in many ways. Animals are ‘broken’ and forced into submission. The moment humans started wielding fire was the moment they started to evolve differently. This collection uses evolution as a vehicle to look into dominance and submission.”

The rising label didn’t just show in Amsterdam this season, though. The presentation followed an appearance at Paris Fashion Week, where artist and Ninamounah muses Richie Shazam, musician Casey Spooner, and Nicolas Endlicher – resident DJ of iconic Berlin club night Herrensauna – were enlisted to take a turn on the runway, with Endlicher also collaborating with renowned textile label Weberei on a number of uniquely tailored pieces within the collection. “We met him in Paris last year, and there was an immediate connection – we started looking for a way to collaborate with him soon after. But we’re not really focused on club kids as a label, so we really wanted to do something unexpected,” Langestraat says.    

But while Spooner and Shazam might serve as muses, Langestraat has someone different entirely in mind when it comes to who she’d love to have seen wear the collection. “Pearl Hart,” she confirms. “A woman who came to America and drank, smoked, and robbed just as much as any cowboy in the Wild West. When she was arrested, she refused to be tried, telling authorities she would ‘not consent to be tried under a law in which my sex had no voice in making’.” Needless to say – stage coach robbery aside – we stan.