When one thinks of capitals of fashion, Maastricht doesn’t usually spring to mind, but the FASHIONCLASH Festival is putting this small city in the south of The Netherlands firmly on the fashion map. The four-day festival, which celebrated its 8th edition this July, is an established event showcasing over 100 emerging designers and artists from 30 countries and is so much more than just a series of catwalk shows. There are also exhibitions, performances, talks, awards and a fashion market.
FASHIONCLASH aims to promote fashion as an art form and to stimulate debate. Each edition follows a theme and, this year, participants were invited to explore the notion of Heritage, by both looking to the past and speculating about the future. The theme was chosen for its relevance to controversial social issues today, including globalisation, immigration and discrimination and because the organisers believe that fashion has a part to play in encouraging reconciliation and unity between cultures.
On the runway, we were impressed again by the graduates from MAFAD, whose collections demonstrated a remarkably high standard both in terms of creativity and quality of finish. Also of note were Portuguese labels David Catalan and Tânia Nicole, Dutch denim brand Bluedenîmes & Minou Lejeune and German designer Hermione Flynn.
Another highlight was the Clash Project, where designers from disciplines outside of fashion are invited to produce a wearable outfit. The results were sometimes playful, sometimes provocative, but always innovative. Our favourites included Dutch designer Adrianus Kundert and American artist Yuyeon Cho.
Performance plays a key role on the FASHIONCLASH catwalk. The audience were treated to dance, drama and music, but we were particularly blown away by young French choreographer Martin Harriague and dancers Patrizio Bucci and Luis Pedraza Cedrón, who presented a thrilling contemporary adaptation of a traditional Iberian dance.
The main venue SAM-Decorfabriek housed the catwalk shows, exhibition and designer market, but there was plenty more to enjoy around the city. At the Centre Ceramique, for example, there were a series of stimulating presentations and panel talks hosted by Forza Fashion House. Throughout June, the location was also home to social project Let’s (Ad)dress the People: pop-up workshops where designers worked with the elderly, using traditional craft techniques to produce new textiles.
Outside of the festival, Maastricht offers plenty of distractions for fashion lovers. In fact, it’s The Netherlands’ best kept shopping secret! Venture away from the chain stores around the Vrijthof and the Grote Markt onto the picturesque side streets and you will find a wealth of interesting boutiques and a thriving café culture.
For label lovers, you can’t beat the Strokstraatkwartier, where you can bag designer brands including Marni, Miu Miu and Zadig & Voltaire, or head to Heggenstraat for cool concept stores and vintage treasures. We love Rechtstraat and the Wyck area where, as well as fashion, you will find interiors, books, art and antiques, as well as plenty of cute cafes, restaurants and delicatessens to refuel in between all that shopping! When the sun sets, treat yourself to Maastricht’s current tipple of choice: a gin and tonic.
At the end of the day, you might as well rest your head somewhere fashionable as well. New arrival Hotel The Dutch is conveniently located in a townhouse in Wyck. It combines the conveniences of a luxury hotel (WiFi, flat screen TV, fluffy bathrobes, branded toiletries and super helpful staff), a quirky ‘80s Miami décor complete with flamingoes and disco balls and a hip hostel atmosphere. A healthy breakfast in a bag is delivered to your door at an hour of your choice and other nice touches include free coffee all day and complimentary mini bars (housed in Smeg fridges of course).
For more information, click here.
Words / Huma Humayun
Follow her on Twitter