In Amsterdam from New York to speak at the 2014 FASHION SYMPOSIUM - Time for Reflection of the Dutch Fashion Foundation is Fashion Designer Pascale Gatzen. At Lloyd Hotel, she is surrounded by the work of one of the people she looks to as an example;. Claudy Jongstra.
Le Cri Néerlandais
With a small band of fellow-graduates from the Arnhem Fashion Academy, she formed ‘Le Cri Néerlandais’ in the early nineties. They were the first Dutch fashion designers with a pret-a-porter show in Paris, 1995. The international press was immediately intrigued by the six Dutch couturiers: Viktor&Rolf, Saskia van Drimmelen, Lucas Ossendrijver, Marcel Verheijen and Gatzen.
“People can’t escape expressing themselves through their clothes. Clothes are so beautiful in that way, they escape this delineation of fixed identities, that is what I love about them.”, Gatzen says.
Taking fashion back
Thoroughly groomed for succes, Gatzen however, came to realise over time that the paradigm of high-fashion is capitalism, and she found it increasingly hard to be forced into its competitive demands. Her priorities lay elsewhere, and then a professorial job at Parson’s New School, New York, came up. It was to create a fashion curriculum in an Integrated Design programme and suited her perfectly.
“I do know that fashion in general has to make a change.It has become a commodity. Fashion is the most destructive and wasteful industry in the world. It is unbelievable that all other design fields take position in relation to how the world is developing, but fashion is still oblivious to it all. For me it is important that we shift our model of success. And in Holland this celebration of the individual designer is still so strong. It keeps a lot of people imprisoned. I needed to move away to free myself from that paradigm. I love to work in a cooperative, in a system that sustains the people.
People should be taking fashion back. It is something that we constantly manifest together everyday. If we realise that, we can create economic realities that are much more supporting the wellbeing of us as a society and the planet as well.
We have to come up with economic models that support the type of fashion which nurtures us, and is celebatory and joyful. Find models that are capable to manifest a counterbalance against those big companies that have so much power. We need to practice alternatives.
She shares similar views with Saskia van Drimmelen, Margreet Zweers, Guus Beumer and Alexander van Slobbe. Dutch examples for her are designer Claudy Jongstra for producing her own wool and the Textile Museum for small local production.
At the moment she is setting up a working cooperative with five New York friends aroung local textile production. We will start with a textile mill that can make yarns and felt from local wool that’s been produced from the Hudson Valley. A large group of NY designers is interested in producing locally again so we think we can connect to a designer market. For me it feels nice to have the means of production in my hands. The next fase would be to have a small industrial knitting machine, so we can make textiles as well. Our hope is to connect farmers and designers, and to make consumers understand that connection. It all starts with the land.