Fashion in Style – Inspired by Mondrian and De Stijl at Gemeentemuseum The Hague

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May 11, 2017

Fashion in Style in The Hague from July 15 – August 13

Alongside this summer’s grand Mondrian retrospective, the Gemeentemuseum The Hague Den Haag is offering a special month-long treat for fashion fans: an extra exhibition entitled Fashion in Style and focusing on fashions inspired by the work of Piet Mondrian and De Stijl.

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Alongside this summer’s grand Mondrian retrospective, the Gemeentemuseum The Hague Den Haag is offering a special month-long treat for fashion fans: an extra exhibition entitled Fashion in Style and focusing on fashions inspired by the work of Piet Mondrian and De Stijl. In addition to Yves Saint Laurent’s famous Mondrian dress (1965), examples will include creations by Prada, Peter Rozemeijer, Marlies Dekkers and Michael Barnaart van Bergen. The exhibition will also include inspiring work by students at The Hague’s ROC Mondriaan vocational college, specially designed for the nationwide Mondrian to Dutch Design. 100 years of De Stijl centenary and exhibited fresh from the catwalk. Exhibition design is by Das Leben am Haverkamp.

The starting point for Fashion in Style is Yves Saint Laurent’s famous Mondrian dress, designed in 1965 and now a veritable fashion icon. The dress was actually part of a collection in which Yves Saint Laurent paid homage to several different artists but the Mondrian dresses were so attention-grabbing that the collection has gone down in fashion history as ‘the Mondrian Collection’. The iconic dress was a technical experiment by the couturier. Looking at Mondrian’s paintings, it had begun to dawn on him that a garment could be equally simple and unadorned; it could be completely composed of a grid of lines, which need not necessarily follow the garment’s seam lines or construction. The result was a collection of cocktail dresses composed of primary colour planes, constructed with ostensible ease and totally ignoring the natural female silhouette.

Off-the-peg imitations of the iconic Mondrian dress soon appeared on the market. But this was not the end of the story. Every now and again since then, other designers have been similarly inspired by the patterns of lines and colour planes found in the work of Mondrian and De Stijl. In the 1980s, for example, Peter Rozemeijer experimented with voluminous woollen coats featuring patchworks of geometrical planes. In 1991, Italian designer Francesco Bandini designed a Mondrian-look collection composed of primary colour planes. In addition to creations by these designers, Fashion in Style will feature designs by Prada, Moschino, Frans Molenaar, Marlies Dekkers and Michael Barnaart van Bergen, all inspired by Mondrian and De Stijl.

The show will also include creations less directly inspired by Mondrian and De Stijl, but reminiscent of their work in terms of colour and the use of large planes. They will include pieces by designers like Maison The Faux and Liselore Frowijn, Dewi Bekker, Gino Anthonisse and Christa van der Meer. The last three of these, together with Anouk van Klaveren, make up the Das Leben am Haverkamp design collective, which is responsible for the design of this exhibition. Early this year, their show at Mercedes-Benz FashionWeek Amsterdam was described in the press as a ‘smash hit’ (Bregje Lampe, Volkskrant, 31 January 2017).

The show will also include creations less directly inspired by Mondrian and De Stijl, but reminiscent of their work in terms of colour and the use of large planes. They will include pieces by designers like Maison The Faux and Liselore Frowijn, Dewi Bekker, Gino Anthonisse and Christa van der Meer. The last three of these, together with Anouk van Klaveren, make up the Das Leben am Haverkamp design collective, which is responsible for the design of this exhibition. Early this year, their show at Mercedes-Benz FashionWeek Amsterdam was described in the press as a ‘smash hit’ (Bregje Lampe, Volkskrant, 31 January 2017).

In addition to creations by top designers, the exhibition will include three other unique elements. The first will be a selection of designs by students at The Hague’s ROC Mondriaan vocational college. The final year show by the college’s 300 fashion students will be held at the Gemeentemuseum in June and the best designs will go straight from the catwalk into the exhibition. Secondly, the Gemeentemuseum has assembled a fine selection of vintage knitwear. In the 1980s, many people in the Netherlands were inspired to knit their own Mondrian sweaters. Enquiries by the museum uncovered some splendid examples, whose wearers will explain in words and pictures what the sweaters mean to them. Finally, visitors will have a chance to exercise their own creativity in a ‘Mondrian workshop’, where they can make their own Mondrian-style bags, based on an idea by Das Leben am Haverkamp. There will also be a special Mondrian photo booth in which everyone can take a stylish selfie.