IN CONVERSATION WITH RACHEL KLOK
What made you want to embrace this career path and what were the main challenges at the start of your journey?
This is going to sound so cheesy, but I have always wanted to become a fashion designer. My mom told me that even before I could talk I would point at the clothes I wanted to wear instead of what she had picked out for me. When I grew older I would ‘make’ clothes for myself and my dolls on a miniature plastic sewing machine from the HEMA that I got for my birthday. And now after finishing my education I am just sure that this is what I should be doing. I can’t see myself doing anything else but this. I love design in general but fashion design is just it for me because you work around a body and a human being. One of the things I enjoy most about it is playing with the body’s proportions.
I think for me the most challenging thing is not having enough time or money. Fashion became so fast and is becoming even faster by the minute thanks to social media. People expect huge collections (fast!), which when you just start up on your own, without wanting to make use of unpaid labor is kind of impossible. I dare to say that everybody in this field is so passionate about what they do, otherwise nobody would do it, I swear. But some of my friends and I are setting up this (I hate this term, but) collective called Patchwork. So we can
determine our own rules within this industry and lift eachother up by sharing our networks.
How do you describe the vision of your designs or brand?
I have a weird relationship with glamor. I am obsessed with it and I hate it both at the same time. I think what I love about it is that it is so dreamy, usually despite my wishes, doesn’t exist by daytime and it is just an overall vibe. I love all the exterior but I dislike ladylike behavior that in my eyes exists alongside it. I don’t love it when somebody draws within the lines, it is way more fun if one doesn’t. Perfection is a bit boring right? I feel like today’s dutch couture is all that and I am tired of it constantly repeating itself. I aim to adopt the good things of couture such as the beautiful constructions and silhouettes but to add the right amount of friction that it in my opinion needs. I think to understand in what way I add this friction you need to know that I am obsessed with history’s mythical and non-mythical archetypes such as pirates, cowboys and witches as portrayed in popular culture. I would describe what I make as non-conformists couture.
How do you choose fabrics and why do you use certain fabrics?
I tend to only go for fabrics made from a 100% natural fiber or natural fiber/polyester blend, such as cotton, wool, silk and viscose. Because of their looks, they’re easier to work with and they feel better on the skin since they breathe. And also they can dissolve naturally over time, which is a shame really, because a ugly polyester market fabric will exist forever. My favorite fabrics/materials are cotton/silk satin, cool wool, shirting, Jersey and leather. I specifically love these fabrics because you immediately associate a satin with for example; luxury, a cool wool with a suit and Jersey with a T-shirt. I like to mix these associations around.
How would you describe the labor process of your clothes?
I usually start by searching images, to create a story outline. I make some drawings, usually a few variations per look that’s in my head. But I start draping on a mannequin almost immediately. Which for me is like drawing but then in 3D, I like that I can decide on the proportions right away. I always look at my drapes from every angle and distance (for quite a moment), people make fun of me for doing this but I really need to do this!! The proportions just have to be right. Once I have determined a shape, I dive into the details. I make fabric samples that I then pin onto my drape, to envision what it would look like, decide on what yarn I want to use in what stitch length et cetera. I put the pattern I draped into paper, do a few fittings on different models in order to perfect it and then it’s finally time to start producing it. It’s a journey!!
What is your collection about?
My latest collection called The Endwas mostly inspired by Hollywood actress Marylin Monroe. Her life and person got so glamoured by the public, whilst in reality she was very depressed. I thought this was such an interesting and tragic contrast, I wanted to translate this into garments. I used 50’s couture silhouettes and techniques as a base and aimed to de-glamourize these by implementing material and shape swaps. Whereas you would expect a silk on this quite classical draped gown I would use a nasty green thin leather with rough looking edges to visualize Monroe’s unhappiness.
What do you think about circularity , and do you incorporate it in your productions , if so what is your take on that?
I try to reduce as much waste as possible. I try not to buy any newly produced fabrics/materials but solely from deadstock. I also use discarded clothing for looks whenever it seems fit, such as old Jersey T-shirts, leather biker jackets, lingerie and parts of corsets. Also I find it important to only buy quality fabrics that, if taken care of, will survive the test of time. Once I will start selling I will only offer made to order, so that there will not be any overproduction. I love this method, because impulse buying doesn’t exist this way, it’s worth the wait because you deeply desire the item. After you have waited a long time for the garment to be produced you will take care of it. And if it happens you’re done with the style, the quality should be good enough to sell it to a new owner who will cherish the garment as you have before. For me circularity is all about that. Are there any other designers you look up to that maybe share your same creative perspective? Absolutely, I am a huge fan of Thierry Mugler throughout the decades and I think Casey Cadwallader is doing a fabulous job making it really contemporary. And John Galliano for Dior. He made all my dreams come true and more. He made a pirate collection and even a Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Sisi) collection in A/W 2004/2005. I have been obsessed with these things ever since I was a child, even my guinea pig was named after Empress Sisi. Besides loving his subjects I also admire his insane draping techniques and how he brought back the bias-cut. Forever thankful.
What is freedom for you ?
Being able to express myself creatively without restrictions.
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