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Designer Mart Visser: Art And Haute Couture

Mart Visser's 2012 work (center) next two of Frans Molenaar's creations | © FaceMePLS / Flickr
Mart Visser's 2012 work (center) next two of Frans Molenaar's creations | © FaceMePLS / Flickr
Early this year Dutch fashion designer Mart Visser unveiled a bold collection of paintings and sculptures titled S.Y.N.E.R.G.Y. These artworks possess a rough, almost primitive, charm that illustrates their creator’s superb craftsmanship and demonstrates Visser’s intuitive grasp of alluring yet modest forms.

Although Visser’s name is generally associated with haute couture he has been creating works of art since childhood. For him, fashion and painting often exist on common ground and follow analogous principles. S.Y.N.E.R.G.Y is a testament to this unique interdisciplinary vision, capturing the elegant simplicity of Visser’s design while uncovering a sense of rawness that was previously absent within his work.

The collection mainly consists of large, abstract portraits of unidentifiable faces. Some have distinguishable features, whereas others are shrouded in a thick gloom that conceals their physical appearance. These peculiar visages are at once confronting and inviting, with each portrait exuding a strange sense of familiarity. Their simple design draws on humanity’s collective ability to recognize facial patterns and decipher expressions even when they aren’t there – a subtlety that immediately demands perusal.

Visser has always had an eye for warmth and detail. In the early 1990s, he emerged as a leading figure within the Dutch fashion world after he released several lines of sophisticated womenswear. During these years, Visser became renowned for his audacious take on classic cuts and created elegant garments with subtle touches of ardor. Since then he has issued two haute couture collections per year, with each series subsequently building upon his spirited approach towards design.

After the millennium, Visser decided to try his hand at prêt-à-porter and opened a boutique studio on Amsterdam’s Paulus Potterstraat. With this new venture, Visser was able to seamlessly translate his experiences on the catwalk into functional designs that retained his distinctive style. This boutique effectively turned Visser’s name into a leading brand and confirmed his place among the Netherlands’ principal fashion designs.

Visser’s latest haute couture collection was actually revealed alongside S.Y.N.E.R.G.Y and is designed to complement the exhibition’s artwork. These outfits and dresses are significantly more somber than Visser’s earlier work and exude a forlorn glamour that marks a new direction within his oeuvre.

S.Y.N.E.R.G.Y recently debuted at Museum ann het Vrijthof in Maastricht, the Netherlands and received considerable press attention. Currently, Visser is working on a number of projects and his designs are available via his website and boutique in Amsterdam.