After receiving an abundant amount of open call applications, the Lichting jury announced their selection of 10 final candidates that will be competing against each other for the Lichting 2023 title. Before their debut to the public during Amsterdam Fashion Week Edition 2023, 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 André Konings.
Can you tell me something about yourself and your trajectory as a fashion student?
As a person, I have always been someone who tends to be a lot in his own world, and may seem a bit shy. For me studying something where I can fully explore and visualise my imagination and thoughts was something I truly enjoyed. Having the skill to make your vision come to life via textiles, prints and garments in itself is pure magic to me. I remember that in my first year at the academy I made a lot of intuitive work and always seemed to really struggle to describe my work in words. Eventually, I learned to embrace the intuitive process of staying close to my vision without worrying too much about the words to explain everything, and rather let the visuals communicate. This helped me gain a lot of trust. Eventually. I became better at analysing my work and started to understand why I create these garments and objects which add on to my fluid world. It’s really personal, and understanding that made me become better in presenting my work to others.
How did the concept of your graduation collection come to being?
Well, it actually kind of came to being in the summer of 2022, when I had just moved from Amsterdam to Utrecht. I had this strange temporary feeling. I was mentally in a liminal space at that time, but also physically as I had spent a lot of time at metro stations, malls etc. I delved more into what liminal spaces are as I really enjoyed looking at online imagery of liminal spaces. Realising that dreams can be seen as liminal spaces as they transport you from one day to another. Immersing myself completely in this world, I integrated this concept further into my work ethic. As I work a lot in between 2D and 3D, I started to create and visualise this liminal world digitally in Photoshop/Clo3D. It’s a continuous loop of going back and forward, and by working this way it kept on inspiring and giving new layers to this hybrid collection.
What important themes do you address with your collection?
My collection might not be super loud, but it opens up an atmosphere where “inbetweennies” and fluid identities get to have a space, can be seen and shown in a different light. Change and transition tends to cause uncertainty and lead to “the unknown”, which to many people is a big fear. It’s totally human, but I like to challenge the viewer to look further and allow themselves to be imaginative. I do that by playing with familiarity and illusion, blurring borders and definitions, in ways that still retains a sense of clarity. My intention is not to force my believes onto anyone, but instead show perspective in an organic way that starts a conversation.
How would you describe your signature as a designer? How does this reflect in your collection?
I’m a designer who visualises and creates in-between worlds. In these worlds, I play with the illusion of recognition. I see the collection as a visual universe, where every garment is its own liminal space. Co-existing yet reflecting each other, as if all the pieces are hybrid forms of each other. Even my way of working can be seen in the outcome of the collection as I work very fluidly through different worlds and mediums (2D, 3D, Photoshop). Every garment captures some sort of glimpse of another world, memory or dream. Almost making the unreachable reachable.
Which piece from the collection are you most proud of? Why?
It’s hard to pick a specific garment or look from the collection. I however really like the printed glass accessories that I added later on to the collection as an extra layer. After I finished the design assessment in February, I told my tutors that I really wanted the collection to somehow turn back into 2D, as my work process is pretty much a continuous loop of going from 2D to 3D using digital design software. For the glass plate accessories, I had the idea to make flat accessories of physical accessories I made for the collection. But also zoomed-in prints of garments and imaginative accessories. The way they are held is also quite interesting, as you cannot fully grab them. The wearer can only make a suggestion of holding them as they’re trapped inside this flat surface.
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?
As my collection has some sort of airport theme to it, I would like the looks to take off on some sort of runway. Even though fashion can have many ways of presenting itself, I still think a runway show has something striking to it. Where the models emerge, have a moment and leave again.