Amidst the evocative remnants of the once-formidable Bijlmerbajes, now Bajeskwartier, with its striking juxtaposition of ruins and the eerie glow of red-lit corridors, an unexpected transformation unfolded during the Steve Madden Fall/Winter ’23 show. This remarkable shift saw the avant-garde couture virtuoso, Ronald van der Kemp, seize the reins of creativity and breathe new life into the coveted fashion domain of Steve Madden.
Hidden between office buildings and construction works, remnants of a six-tower former prison haunt the skyline. A crowd of fashion frenzies and press gather at the courtyard. The mere juxtaposition of the fashion world’s vitality with the crumbling infrastructure of the past creates a dramatic contrast, a visual metaphor echoing the transient nature of fashion itself. As the audience is guided into the building, red neon beams lead to a narrow corridor. Walls wrapped in black and white ‘Steve Madden’ gaffer tape, referring to the Steve Madden logo, but also to Madden’s 31 months in jail, signify that there will be indeed a rebellious fashion spectacle closed in between the prison walls.
With Dutch conscious-couture designer Ronald van der Kemp in charge of the curation of the show, expectations are heightened to a level of perfection. The designer consistently demonstrates a remarkable penchant for fabric innovation and an unwavering commitment to sustainability, elevating his upcycled couture creations to the status of awe-inspiring marvels. For the creative direction of the Steve Madden FW23 collection, he consequently decided to once again walk the rebellious path and pair the footwear with ensembles entirely made out of paper. In a RVDK universe, a mere formality, for the rest of us, an unthinkable task.
As the first models take their first steps, there’s an unmistakable aura of defiance in the air. These unconventional prisoners clutch their mug shot signs with an almost theatrical flair, serving as both a symbol of their individuality and a striking contrast to their uniformity. Their choice of footwear is equally captivating, ranging from chunky black loafers that exude an air of casual insouciance to knee-high lace-up’s and heavy black ankle boots, adding a distinctive edge to their ensembles. A pink bedazzled Mistica sneaker followed by a line-up of hardcore attire. Ronald van der Kemp mastery really makes an impact when a papier-mâché gown completely packed with a bed of ecoline-painted roses enters the stage; it turns out that whatever we had seen so far was a humoristic foretaste of what was about to come. A high-shine silver gown with voluminous trail reflects the shimmer of the iridescent rhinestone boots and makes the audience’s jaw drop.
Photo’s by Katerina Bezede