We are more than proud to present the 10 finalists of Lichting 2022. Before their debut to the public on the 2nd of September, AFW sat down with each participant to talk about their collection and their plans for the upcoming Lichting show. This week we would like to introduce you to Gerrit Rietveld Academy graduate Lotte de Jager!
How did the concept behind your graduation collection come to being?
The word ‘collection’ is not really applicable to my graduation work. Instead of spending my design efforts on making new garments, I concentrated on designing a performance: a real-life experience focusing on the body. My collection does not necessarily consist of garments only, but can be read as a collection of bodies and histories. I think the concept behind ‘the Dirt’ was conceived in a twofold of sentiments: one that is very intimate and close to my body and one commenting on larger systems in the modern world. It all started with me learning how to heal my body and its traumas through movement, breathing and mindfulness techniques. I developed an urgency to share my discoveries on the benefits of connecting to your body with other people. My other drive was developed with me getting educated on how mechanisms of oppression of bodies and inequality are deeply rooted in the fashion industry today. Millions of underpaid factory employees are living a tough life in order to produce fast fashion items for mainly Eurocentric companies. Furthermore, the fashion industry is heavily implicated in the suppression of animal bodies and plants as toxic textile dyes and the heavy carbon footprint contribute to an unsafe environment for many. In my graduation show I researched a way to question these two sentiments concerning bodies, human, animal and terrestrial. By reinstituting the body as a centrepiece to the fashion system I set out to develop a way to live fashion moments in a zero-emission way.
How would you describe your signature as a designer? How does this reflect in your collection?
My hope is to reinvent ways to be a fashion designer, steering away from the idea of a singular designer and moving more towards a notion of the design studio as a democratic organism. My projects always involve intense collaboration and the will to grow a platform with other artists. As a dancer it is natural for me to involve movement into my projects and taking the body as my primary fabric. I like to experiment with discarded materials and human debris, this may have its basis in my previous studies to become a Geologist before I entered the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. Furthermore, my works tend to be site-specific as I see the body (as well as the garment) as an extension of the space, movement is a tool to propose new ways of negotiating that space.
Hence, for my graduation show I have made it my mission to invite a lot of other people into the creative process and rely on the magic of collaborative forces, hereby positioning myself more as a creative director within the project. I furthermore worked with performers as opposed to models, paying close attention to their specific identities and shaping the choreography and styling to what their specific characters might need.
On July 29th, you were introduced to the Lichting jury for the first time. How did you experience this moment? What feedback do you take with you to your presentation during AFW?
To me this presentation was an opportunity to gain confidence in presenting myself as a professional designer. The jury was excited to see a project that focused on bringing the art of performance into the fashion realm. They agreed with my vision that fashion moments do not necessarily have to rely on garments and commerce but that this phenomenon can come from within, from being at peace with your own body in a space.
Which piece from the collection are you most proud of? Why?
My biggest pride lies in everything that I learned from the people I worked with: the performers, the production team, the choreographer, the documentation team and my teachers. I am also especially proud of the collaboration with sound designer Wuxing (Sammie Straub) who made and performed the show track for the performance. It was very interesting to discover together how to transform a concept based on movement and embodiment into sound.
What would be the ideal way to present your collection to the public in September? Can you already say something about what you currently have in mind?
Even though there are already a lot of ideas, I cannot share much with you yet as I want to keep the element of surprise. I can however tell you that the show will be playing with and commenting on the specific context of Amsterdam Fashion Week. As ‘the Dirt’ is a site-specific work there will be some interesting challenges on how to adapt the choreography and scenography to the location of Capital C. The aspect of live-sound will become an even more important part of the performance. I am looking forward to it!
Images ⓒ Trees Heil