The work I do on a voluntary basis has its cons but most important also a lot of pro’s. Visiting press previews is one of them. Yesterday I went to Utrecht, in the centre of the Netherlands, for the upcoming exhibit “Stof tot Nadenken” by Alexander Van Slobbe at Centraal Museum. After a word of welcome by the museum director and a foreword by Alexander himself, there was a book presentation about his 20 years as a designer, tailor and being in business and it’s also a link to the exhibition. Craft was the main theme, not only in the creations he makes but also in the book, or more specific it’s cover. Not one cover is the same, all 3,000 are different, a craft on itself. [In case you are interested... Title: Alexander van Slobbe, and... and... and... ISBN 978-90-78088-31-8 price in the Netherlands 45 euros] After this introduction it was off to see the show which opens tomorrow to the public.
The austere, minimalist designs by Van Slobbe (SO by Alexander van Slobbe, orson+bodil) are internationally regarded as the epitome of Dutch Modernism. Alongside Viktor & Rolf, Van Slobbe is seen as the most versatile, successful and talented Dutch fashion designer of the day. His personal passion is the product itself, informed by an ongoing quest for new creations, innovative materials and the use of different means of production, including traditional methods. A running theme throughout Van Slobbe’s career has been to see fashion as a platform on which various forms of collaboration with architects, artists and writers can take place.
The show doesn’t start with the fashion Alexander is famous for, but with the handmade shawls and a look behind the scenes of his workshop and studio. It’s a slow build up, starting with the accessories. He’s famous for his bold colours but also plain fabrics and in the next hall, which is painted dark grey, you can see, hanging from the ceiling on black mannequins, his Archive Collection in black silk with their paper patterns. The Archive Collection consists of timeless pieces dating as far back as his early years and which sometimes come back with a slight alteration in his new collections.
Another thing that’s different is the DIY room, Alexander Van Slobbe gave a special pattern of the Archive Collection to the museum, so visitors can draw this pattern on fabric, cut the material and sow it together, while visting this expo. Each piece created this way will be displayed in this same room and will be part of a contest. It may look easy, but it’s not, the pattern is only made out of 3 pieces, but it’s the trick to put them right together and to read the hidden directions.
This show is partly made with pieces from their own collection but also with pieces from the designer and other designers he worked with. To name a few Claudy Jongstra, a felt and fabric designer and Royal Tichelaar in Makkum, the pearls of Makkum ceramics. During the exhibition several workshops will be given, one of them jumps out “Sewing for Dummies”.
After a delicious lunch I also saw other parts of the museum, like the show “Unresolved Matters”. With this exhibit Utrecht Manifest presents not only a historical or contemporary vision of the social, but at the same time raises the question of why the objects on display can be considered exemplary of a particular social vision. ‘Unresolved Matters’ displays three influential conceptions of ideal living spaces and the ways artists, designers and architects contributed to these utopias with, amongst others, multiples by Joseph Beuys, paper dresses from the 1960′s, El Anatsui’s Earth Cloth, radio’s from the 1940′s-70′s, glass designs by A.D. Copier and Wilhelm Wagenfeld, unique historical film fragments and more. Next to all this modern stuff they also have a huge collection of 15th to 20th Century art.
It was a day well spend, and I forgot to tell you we all got a book for free… my colleague who couldn’t make it to the show will get it, since I sold all my fashion books last month.