While most fashion weeks include a platform for emerging designers, the FASHIONCLASH Festival, which takes place each June in The Netherlands, is dedicated entirely to showcasing up-and-coming brands and designers from around the world. Billing itself as a fashion festival rather than a fashion week, the event includes catwalk shows, performances, exhibitions and shopping at both its main hub and around the picturesque city of Maastricht. Schön! visited the seventh edition to discover the latest design talent, get some retail therapy and eat a waffle (or two).
This year’s FASHIONCLASH took on the mighty subject of gender as its theme, not just in terms of clothing, but also in relation to our biological gender, and challenged its participants to do the same through their collections and the way they were presented. At the main venue, over 30 young designers, as well as 11 student and graduate designers, were represented on the catwalk, while a further 35 got a chance to show and sell their collections in the ‘Market’. Another 10 designers from disciplines outside of fashion participated in the Clash Project catwalk show and the gender-themed Expo displayed thought provoking work by artists as well as innovative fashion items.
Meanwhile, around Maastricht, there was a plethora of activities for fashion and culture lovers. As well as exhibitions in museums and the impressive Polare Bookstore, which is housed in a beautiful church building, fashion film screenings and live performances (or ‘Theatrical Encounters’) popped up around the city. FASHIONCLASH doesn’t only promote emerging designers, it promotes Maastricht as the fashion capital of The Netherlands, and so the coolest boutiques were marked out for visitors to explore. Whether you’re looking for designer names like Céline and Givenchy, vintage finds or niche labels where garments and accessories are handmade on the shop floor, you can find them here while strolling the cobbled streets and admiring the quaint townhouses. The highlight for us though was the Sunday street market curated by FASHIONCLASH, where we snapped up a brand new Acne Studios dress for 25 Euros. This was the first time the market had been held, but with cut-price Marni and Miu Miu galore, we certainly hope it won’t be the last!
Back to the main event though, where the menswear collaboration from Bluedênimes & Minou Lejeune caught our eye with a summer collection inspired by ice. Milliner Sofya Samareva also stood out for the highly original and colourful pieces she designed for Joelle Boers’ show. Samareva’s other creations are inspired by haircuts or crowns or present a twist on traditional caps and are made using the finest materials. It might seem odd to close an international fashion event with a graduate show, but when we saw the accomplished designs and beautiful execution from the students of the Maastricht Academy of Fine Arts and Design (MAFAD), it made perfect sense. The standard of their collections could easily compete with the famous fashion schools of New York, London, Paris and Milan. We loved Carina Schulte’s quirky combination of colourful stripes, pleats and prints, the sophisticated silhouettes and fabrics from Nathalie Barschewski, the modern take on Victoriana from Verena Klein and the crisp and clean but urban menswear from Reinder Schmidt, but it was Paula Reichert who triumphed when she was singled out for the talent prize from local magazine Chapeau.
Prizes for the other designers included support from Germany’s KALTBLUT Magazine, which was snapped up by Patrick de Pádua. We spotted de Pádua, and his take on hooligan chic, at ModaLisboa in March, where he also won the Sangue Novo award for emerging designers. The top prize, the FASHIONCLASH Talent Award, which is judged by an independent panel of industry experts, was given to LAT (Lautaro Amadeo Tambutto), from Argentina, for a collection inspired by his homeland, but reinterpreted in modern, monochromatic and masculine style.
From next year, the FASHIONCLASH Foundation is looking to expand by going mobile and taking the festival to international events throughout the year. You can contribute to this important and exciting initiative, which is called Spot On!, via crowd funding here.
For further information on the festival, visit fashionclash.nl.
Words / Huma Humayun
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