Words we use often at Slashstroke Magazine are clunky, mash up, right side of wrong and fun, not clever words but you get it, we like our information slightly twisted but its always a celebration of instinct and oddness combined with dedication and skill. The energy of how elements might sit alongside each other and play or fight for contexts offers up spaces to consider new perspectives. Good ideas aren’t dependant on the ridiculous but they do need a dynamic and Maarten van der Horst is having a moment in fashion right now and with a collection that is a combination of all those words. For van der Horst who’s love of kitsch is fed into a retro spectrum of digital floral prints and boudoir frills fixed onto a utilitarian silhouette of boxy coats, jackets, shirts and cropped trousers his is a mashed up vision, a vintage Miami vacation for cross dressing starlets. The ridiculousness is suggestive rather then relentless offering just the right notes for the right character and for fashion now.
Slashstroke meets up with the Dutch born designer to add some background to the fun.
How did you arrive at this point?
Through many heartbreaks, disappointments, sleeping in train stations and working my ass off.
After completing a BA in womenswear fashion in Arnhem (NL), I moved to London to do my MA at Central Saint Martins. Graduating in 2011, I was immediately picked up by Lulu Kennedy and got support from Fashion East to start my own label and have a show on schedule during London Fashion Week in September 2011. After showing my SS12 collection, our stockists now include iconic retailers like Selfridges & Co in London, Opening Ceremony in New York and LA and Edition in Japan.
How easy or hard is it?
Designing is extremely hard and dead easy at the same time.
Is there a plan?
Absolutely not. No goals, just dreams.
Is the process from idea to product or output a changing one, or a routine one?
Its always organic, so therefore always changing.
Is there always an audience/ character/ market in mind?
Yes, always. Design has to fit into other people’s worlds. Our products are meant to be adopted and lived with. You save up some money to buy that incredible dress or jacket, wear it on a night out and have the time of your life.
Is there an emotional, physical, mental backdrop to your work, what gets you motivated work wise?
In my ideas, I work around people’s perceptions, pre-conceived ideas and expectations. My work is about surprising people and altering people’s perspectives. Constantly juggling with existing codes and stereotypes.
For me, designing clothes is almost like creating a cult. Presenting my own personal ideas about clothes and femininity and sartorial dressing will not appeal to everyone. Therefore I create my own group of people that want to represent those ideas. The people that wear my designs agree with a certain perspective or opinion I present every season.
Who or what are your influences, heroes, idols, muses, irritants?
John Waters has been a very big influence on the past two seasons. His low-budget films have been incredibly inspiring to watch. I’m a big fan of Dutch artists Lily van der Stokker and Marc Bijl. I love work by Studio Job, I’m a big Talking Heads fan. Johnny Johansson (creative director of Acne) is one of my heroes. Julie Verhoeven is incredible. Anything that doesn’t feel genuine is an irritant. And there’s a lot of that around!
If money wasn’t an issue what would you do/produce/create or not do?
The way I work is very idea-based. If I get a good (or bad) idea for T-shirts, I will do T-shirts, if I get a good idea for jackets, there will be jackets. Not to say that I don’t design things the other way around, because obviously I want to offer a complete wardrobe. If money wasn’t an issue I would just have more space to develop more ideas!!
Tell me about the current collection/project you are working on; what is your current source of inspiration?
I’m working on my AW12 collection that I will show as part of Fashion East in February. I’m also working on a capsule collection for TOPSHOP which will launch in April and I’m working on my website that will launch in march, which will include a webshop. Also I’m trying to survive, because I have no money! My current source of inspiration for all of this is the development of my own vocabulary. I don’t like the word signature, because I’m not a couturier. Its more developing my own language and learning to communicate it properly.
If you were to study a subject which is related to your practise but could inform your work what would it be?
If you could do something else what would it be?
I live for this. I can not imagine doing anything else and being as happy as I am today! The moment there is, I will quit immediately and pursue another career.
ILLUSTRATIONS BY DAVID POOLE, FILM BY DAN GIANINI AND /-