Show Report: Rietveld Graduation Show 2024

This year’s Gerrit Rietveld Academy graduation show was characterised by live sound, specifically the use of microphones. With the intend to literally give every student a voice, the show was aimed to mimic a 1950’s fashion défilé, where a presenter provides live commentary on the specifics of the garments. This however, didn’t translate exactly as intended, but rather shifted more towards the feeling of attending a school play, with spoken word, dress up parties, costumes and amusing intermezzos. The event culminated with graduates joyfully trotting the final stage, symbolising the end of an era, the onset of adulthood or in this case, the daunting entry into the fashion industry.


The focus of this year’s graduation show leaned heavily on performance, rather than design. The location, a small theatre named ‘t Zonnehuis, further emphasised this. A true intersection of creative disciplines, the school collaborated with voice and performance coaches, choreographers, sound artists and scenographers. I overheard a dancer say that he was so impressed by the choreography of some of the performances, he could hardly recall the details of the clothing. In combination with the dimmed light setup and a rather cramped seating plan, the surroundings did take away some of the attention that the collections deserved. A Rietveld show however, wouldn’t be a Rietveld show without the needed ineptness that makes everything a bit more intriguing and far from mundane. Earnestness is never a word I would use to describe the identity that the school holds, rather an environment of experimentation, where the encouragement of curiosity stands tall above all.

A performance worth mentioning was that of Mads Lucky Hemmingsen, who took the audience to a candle lit Copenhagen actors’ cafe on a side street of the Danish Broadway. The scene is completed by piano and vocals, and further plays with the distinction between frontstage and backstage, which inherently comes back through the manipulation of traditional menswear staples. Creating a certain juxtaposition between a theatre play and a collection presentation, the clothes felt equally fitting in both settings.

In terms of design, the collection of Marlene Schienle was particularly impressive, as she managed to embrace the location that was provided and the theatrics it brought along, enticing the audience with the transformative power of ritual and dress-up. Her collection leaned more towards costume design, which displayed her crafting skills and design techniques perfectly, all the while drawing the audience in through the oddity of each and every piece. A massive hat made of small plushies you would find hanging on a keychain of a school kid. A jester costume, completed with red fringes that moved alongside the body. Lastly, a model covered in a patchwork of fur, her ass peeking through, her head covered with a mask of a massive beast.

As all students locked eyes with the audience for the final applause, they were singing along to ’Unwritten’ by Natasha Bedingfield, emphasising a certain innocence. This tied back into the idea of a school play, as if I just watched a coming of age movie with the perfect ending. After further thought, it is always refreshing to get reminded that fashion, however exclusive, elitist or stuck up, can also be fun.

Photography: Sanne Peper

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