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Defying Conventions, Fashion Designer To Watch: Anouk Van Klaveren
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Defying Conventions, Fashion Designer To Watch: Anouk Van Klaveren

Picture of Clementina Calderini Jackson
Updated: 24 April 2017
On|Off: The Independent Global Fashion Showcase finally made its return to London in February after seven years, and it was well worth the wait. Founded in 2003 by Lee Lapthorne, On|Off offers a platform for young, talented, and unique fashion designers to showcase their work, handpicking the best from around the world and bringing them together in one ground-breaking show. We profile this year’s most innovative designer, Anouk Van Klaveren.
Bubble Boy ©Rik Versteeg
Bubble Boy | ©Rik Versteeg

Kicking off Fashion Week with a glamorous launch party at London’s Cuckoo Club, On|Off presented its new designers for the first time to a host of glamorous party-goers including fashion and art students, industry insiders, and long-time supporters of the showcase. Selected pieces from the designers’ collections were showcased as part of a live model 3D mapping fashion show to the crowd, reflecting the importance of technology to On|Off’s concept and their increasingly innovative ways of expression which defy commercial boundaries.

Among the designers launched by On|Off at this event was Anouk Van Klaveren, a Dutch fashion designer who best encapsulates On|Off’s emphasis on ‘newness’, creativity, and artistic risk removed from the commercial system’s constraints. Handpicked for the 2015 showcase by the same people who launched the careers of now internationally-renowned designers such as Mark Fast, Peter Pilotto, Gareth Pugh, and JW Anderson, Anouk Van Klaveren is a name that fashion and design-lovers will want to remember.

Anouk Van Klaveren

A Fashion Design graduate from the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague, Netherlands, Anouk Van Klaveren started designing and sketching pretty dresses at the age of 6 – a far cry from her approach to fashion design nowadays.

A designer who ‘explores the field of tension between normality and abnormality, functional and non-functional, seductive and abject’, Anouk’s unglamorous and unconventional approach to fashion firmly stands out against the backdrop of feminine florals, 20s glamour, luxury embellishment, and floaty neutrals that have dominated the catwalks season after season.

By far the most unique aspect of her designs is her unconventional approach to textile design, using materials in completely unexpected ways to play with the connotations that they carry with them. Leather representing a ‘masculine coolness’ and ‘rebellion’ is combined with Swarovski crystals which ooze wealth and glamour to unexpectedly create the representation of a skin disease, while luxury Scottish tweeds are combined with human hair, altogether defying convention in innovative ways. Anouk tells us that she does this in order to try and put the ever limiting constraints of the luxury industry into perspective and to question the values of these elements.

On|Off gave her the opportunity to show for the first time during London Fashion Week as part of the showcase, with a collection that she describes with the words, ‘casual cool guy, body transformation and fluffy weirdness’.

Parasitic Twin Jumper ©Wim Klaassen
Parasitic Twin Jumper | © Wim Klaassen

‘For this collection I was inspired by body mutations. These deformities really fascinate me, because they feel attractive and abhorrent at the same time. This sharp edge of aesthetics is something I liked to capture in my design’.

Other inspirations for her work include German design duo BLESS, where she completed an internship in 2012, Danish designer Henrik Vibskov, and, though she claims not to notice a direct or conscious link between her Dutch heritage and her work, there are traces of a typically-Dutch penchant for conceptual design and down-to-earth mentality.

So what’s next for the designer? Anouk is part of a collective of fashion designers called Das Leben am Haverkamp, which she formed alongside three fellow graduates from The Hague’s Royal Academy of Art, who are currently preparing their first showroom and exhibition in Paris. Aiming to have stockists all over Europe and Asia, their priority is ‘to find exciting ways to present new work in a different context from Fashion Week, giving a new dimension to fashion’.

Hypertrichosis Bow Tie ©Wim Klaassen
Hypertrichosis Bow Tie | ©Wim Klaassen

Describing themselves as ‘an island spaceship disjointed from time and space, which could all of a sudden land at a prestigious museum, or right in front of you at your local supermarket, but never as you expect’, they highlight their taste for exploring unchartered territory and crossing the boundaries of everything that the fashion industry expects.

Such strong, developed ideas and unique, unconventional execution is highly impressive, but even more so when noting that Anouk Van Klaveren is in fact only 24 years old. With such a bright start, we have much to look forward to in her future as a fashion designer.

To keep up with Anouk Van Klaveren’s career, visit her website: http://anoukvanklaveren.com/