Spijkers en Spijkers, perhaps the most internationally recognized of Dutch labels to come out of the wave of the designers after Viktor & Rolf’s ascent,showed their SS11 collection on London’s On/Off catwalk.
The collection takes its inspiration from the unforgettable duet by Kylie Minogue and Nick Cave, ‘Where The Wild Roses Grow’. The overblown ballad’s themes of a narcotic love of beauty – a man driven to murder a woman in order to preserve her beauty at that moment forever- inspired the twin sisters to consider a collection driven by the idea of unlocking the youthfulness and beauty within every woman, whatever her age.
Quiet beige, reds, electric orange and floral prints of riotous bursts of colour are drawn together by the framing colours of black and white. Rather than drawing on a singular historical silhouette, instead, one could see an influence from different eras; Katherine Hepburn-style 1940’s trouser suits through to a folkish version of 1960’s mini dresses with bib-like collar and strap details evoking the dark country love song that acted as the trigger motif for the collection. Nature and the countryside were also in evidence in floral cut out details on dresses and white broidery anglaise or lace. Jackets with trailing plant decorative touches and printed crepe de Chine and floral prints with the air of a Gustav Klimt field of flowers all evoked a world of nature and the open fields in which the Elisa Day of the song may have skipped barefoot.
Spijkers en Spijkers have walked a path in design that often seems somewhat different to the conceptual and stark approaches favoured by many of the designers emerging from the academy in Arnhem where they too studied. Theirs is often a vision of womenswear that is urban, chic and sexy, qualities that are very much in evidence in this collection. Yet, when one looks more closely, at the detailing, for example, Spijkers en Spijkers are very much designers that are concerned with the underlying conceptual approaches to how clothes are constructed.
In the rose detail on the pockets of a bright orange mini tulip skirt or the front of a dress – achieved through folding fabric in precise geometric patterns- and, in turn, justaposing these with the heavy framing of black or the Vienna Secessionist mood of a floral print, or even in the pattern of cutouts on black silky fabrics showing skin beneath, we can make the connections between a contemporary fashion collection and the history of design. Spijkers en Spijkers SS11 collection has as much to teach us about how Jugendstijl translated the natural world into geometric abstraction as it does about looking sexy and sophisticated. Poor Elisa Day may have admired the kaleidoscopic effect of sunlight falling on a field of flowers, but the pioneers of early modernism translated such natural phenomena into designs of abstracted beauty. And, in that long mimetic tradition, Spijkers en Spijkers work with the conceptual understanding of design informed by modernism that distinguishes a number of designers who studied at Arnhem. In their case it may be a lot less notable on the surface, but it nonetheless remains deeply embedded within their sexy and chic SS11 collection.