Celebrating Fashion Designer Percy Irausquin

Irausquin presented his collection at Amsterdam Fashion Week in 2008 | © Guido van Nispen / Flickr
Irausquin presented his collection at Amsterdam Fashion Week in 2008 | © Guido van Nispen / Flickr
Photo of Tom Coggins
6 September 2016

Before his tragic death in August 2008, Percy Irausquin was tipped to become the leading fashion designer in the Netherlands. His designs were celebrated for their flowing elegance, original cuts and soft, deep palate cloths that simultaneously embodied modern high fashion and urbane culture. Irausquin created unique wardrobes that appealed to many celebrities and his dresses appeared at events and fashion shows across Europe.

Irausquin was born and raised on the Caribbean Island of Aruba. As this small territory is still governed by the Netherlands, Irausquin was able to attend university in Amsterdam and enrolled in the Gerrit Rietveld Academie after he graduated high school. At this prestigious institute, Irausquin learnt the foundations of his craft, and eventually finished his fashion degree. Afterwards, he continued his studies at the Fashion Institute Arnhem, and in 2001 was nominated for the Robijn Fashion award. A year later he received the Frans Molenaar Couture award and was then soon picked up by Christian Lacroix.

While working with Lacroix’s esteemed designers, Irausquin began to attract the attention of the international fashion world. He released several acclaimed collections between 2002 and 2003, including designs that paid homage to Aruban culture. In 2008, Suzie Templeton wore one his designs to the Oscars, walking down the red carpet in floor-length, crimson evening gown. Later that year Irausquin presented his creations at Amsterdam Fashion Week revealing his work to universal acclaim. Elle and Marie Claire featured his work on their covers, and Vogue named him as one of the most promising figures in the fashion industry.

A catwalk at Amsterdam Fashion Week | © Michiel / Flickr

Irausquin had an amazing eye for contours, and created beautifully-shaped outfits. These dresses and suits used clever design to channel natural movements, exuding grace and sophistication. Although Irausquin was known for his simple, subtle designs he also experimented with silhouettes, making glamorous dresses that flared outwards at the shoulders and hips. These designs perfectly balanced extravagant shapes with modest patterns, successfully treading the fine line between elegance and opulence.

For Irausquin, fashion was about refinement rather than innovation, and most of his work was deliberately uncomplicated. He designed clothes for modern, cosmopolitan women, using his talents to develop a distinctive style that seamlessly mixed haute-couture with prêt-à-porter. Many of Irausquin’s creations found their way into high-profile celebrities’ wardrobes, and he was commissioned by Dutch starlet Katja Shuurman to design her wedding dress.

His sudden, accidental death was deeply mourned by the global fashion community and his tragically short career continues to garner exceptional praise.

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