December 10, 2017

Instagram Worthy x Yellow + Pink / Glitter =

Dutch Design Week 2017

'The Future City is Flexible' by MVRDV
On the market of Eindhoven

This year I could attend the Dutch Design Week as a fully recognised member of the press, jippie, so I could enter everywhere for free. I didn't get to visit everything I wanted, because it was a full program spread over Eindhoven City and I only had one day, but I enjoyed it very much! 
Every edition, I missed last year, I have been writing a review. I try to capture the main trend. This year I saw a lot of recurring trends; we still try to save the planet while creating more stuff, but I also noticed something else. I noticed that everything was sooo pretty, so "Instagram Worthy", so hashtag-able... Of course logical, you want your stuff to be shared. Before I went I saw so many things on Social Media that turned out to be more a photo opportunity then anything else. Not that there was a lack of stuff... the opposite, but I just felt everything was designed to look good online. And maybe that is precisely what it is about these days... I participate to this culture just as much, so don't read it as a judgement. I myself walked around DDW with my phone in my hand and a constant stream in my insta-stories.

Back of 'Off the Grass' at Veem during DDW

'How & Wow' by the Crafts Council during DDW 

I started my DDW 2017 with a visit to a new building for the festival. The former parking garage was turned into an exhibition space on two floors. The entrance was were normally the cars drive up. They decorated it with these fluor yellow strips of fabric. It was walking through a mix between a car wash and curtains.  I loved it!
In the building the Crafts Council made a big exhibition promoting the crafts & platforms they support. In bright yellow with hot pink 'How & Wow' showed classical things like Staphorst dot work and soap making. I liked the almost 80's kind of setting for these Dutch traditional things.

Collaboration of fashion designer Walter van Beirendonck 
& Staphorst dot-maker Gerard van Osten at 'How & Wow' at DDW

What you can do with flax, part of 'How & Wow' at DDW

What you can do with flax, part of 'How & Wow' at DDW

What you can do with flax, part of 'How & Wow' at DDW

Woven works by Marian Stubenitsky at 'How & Wow' at DDW

In the former V&D the 'Modebelofte' presentation was held. I always like how it is set up, previous years in the stadium, and now in this fitting setting of a former department store. The outside of the building already promised a iridescent experience. In a rainbow foil labyrinth the new "Fashion Promises" were shown. On and off turning spots on pounding music revealed futuristic looking fashion, some more wearable sculpture, others surprisingly wearable cool outfits. 

Outfit by Fabio Bigondi at Modebelofte which I love for obvious reasons


Outfit by Han Kim at Modebelofte

In the same building Vlisco made a really nice presentation. I got totally green-eyed by it, wish I would be invited one day from a collaboration like this. They invited 'Fashion Promise' Sander Bos to design new prints and clothing with inspiration from their archive. The piece from the archive was this 1920's headscarf from the Haarlemsche Katoenmaatschappij. The design on it was inspired by Pagi-sore batiks, day and night batiks. Traditionally one side, normally on a sarong, was worn during the day, the other side in the evening. Also the design is light and dark. Both in color and in motif. I inspired my own Batik 'Difficult Time' on this design as well (read more on see 
Inspired by this wax print version of an original Batik design, Sander Bos made a glow in the dark wax print. On 4 mannequins in a separate space the glow in the dark wax print was designed into 4 outfits showing the different effects of the textile. I'm looking forward to how they are developing this later, and if more people get invited to do collaborations like this (hint hint).

Day and Night by Vlisco at DDW

Day and Night test textiles

Detail of 1920's Wax print headscarf from the Haarlemsche Katoenmaatschappij

Day and Night by Vlisco at DDW

Day and Night by Vlisco at DDW

Day and Night by Vlisco at DDW

Day and Night by Vlisco at DDW

Day and Night by Vlisco at DDW

Next to Social Shareable-feel of the DWW, it seemed like Fun & Future were themes too. Captured in a setting of many colours. Populair were yellow & pink, but also glitter. Yes Glitter! Looking back at the pictures, I was reminded of this article in the Volkskrant about the Unicorn-trend two weeks ago. DDW showed a world filled with glitter, rainbows, iridescent colours, tiny houses, longing for craft, yet very now and very futuristic... Unicorny, a theme-park ride almost. It was an escape, not really an answer. Yet I enjoyed the ride fully with iPhone first! Strange how you can enjoy it so much, yet feel uneasy about it...
In the end I felt more entertained then inspired. DDW is meant as a stage to present developments, but it seems that nowadays we don't really care about this story, we just want a pretty picture. It was still a lot about "Getting Stuff" instead of "Creating Better Stuff". So get ready for a year getting entertained without any real solutions.

ECAL Graphic Design at Veem at DDW

Vlisco rug by Simone Post, 
I missed the exhibition at DDW...

At Veem at DDW

Precious Plastic at Sectie-C at DDW

At the Klokgebouw at DDW

At Veem at DDW, can anyone tell me more on this? Please comment below

At Sectie-C at DDW, can anyone tell who made the jumpsuit, please comment below

Präsentation upcoming collaboration Zeeuw Museum and Das Leben am Haverkamp

Upcoming collaboration Zeeuw Museum and Das Leben am Haverkamp

For more on the Dutch Design Week visit

For previous reviews on the DDW see label 'Dutch Design Week

December 2, 2017

Opening Asian Library

Dousa Special Collections Reading Room at the Asian Library in Leiden

On the 14th of September 2017 the Asian Library at the University of Leiden was opened with a grand opening filled with lectures, pop-up exhibitions, dance and films. My film 'The journey to Batik-Tari Batik' got its first screening on that day! So on my Social media you already saw me enjoying a rickshaw ride in the pouring rain with my love, spotting Queen Maxima and watching the amazing opening dance by Aafke de Jong, but I still have more to share and I love to look back at this special day.

Early morning the ceremonial opening started in the Pieterskerk. The church was filled with people who dressed all very nicely for this occasion, mostly in suits, but I spotted some overseas traditional wear and textiles. I was happy I treated myself to a custom made Batik Tulis dress
After a little wait for the royalty to arrive, the opening started with a traditional Balinese dance followed by a modern interpretation, improvised by Aafke de Jong.
It almost never happens, but I didn't make any notes that day, being too nervous for my screening later on, so you just have to believe that the opening-speech, especially the one by Professor Peter Frankopan was really good!

After eating a sandwich while staring at the queen, we headed to the University of Leiden. The program was in all buildings and even the Hortus joined in. We first went to the Asian Library - Cinema Room Vos. A new part of the library with a big screen and lovely chairs. When we entered my parents were already inside! Such a nice surprise! 
With pounding heart I watched the movies, waiting for my own... it was so great to see the film on the screen! What a perfect place to premiere my film!*

'The journey to Batik- Tari Batik' in the Cinema Room Vos

'The journey to Batik- Tari Batik' in the Cinema Room Vos

Panel in hallway of the Library

Image from presentation "Dressing the 'Stans': 
Textiles, dress and jewellery from Central Asia" by Dr. Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood

While the films continued playing in the Cinema Room Vos, we went to the lecture "Dressing the 'Stans': Textiles, dress and jewellery from Central Asia" by Dr. Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood in the Academy building. What amazing places to study at by the way, wauw, lucky students!
The lecture about the exhibition with the same title at the Textile Research Center, on display till 21 December, gave an insight into traditional dress of Central Asia and why TRC chose it. Next to having an interesting collection of pieces to show, they found that the Leiden Asian Year had a lot on Southeast Asia, but nothing on Central Asia. To fill the gap they made a selection of textiles worn and used in Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In the presentation she also showed some new developments on textile research. Black and white photos coloured in. But not in a technicolor kind of way, in an actual scientific way in which they can see which colours the grey-tones must have had. It results in very colourful group portraits, but also a women posing in a burqa which is now a beautiful Indigo blue (see photo above).
It changes your perspective on a history that looks grim and without color, but instead was filled with colours, patterns and gorgeous textiles. Love to know and see more of this photo-project, so if you read this and you know more, please comment below!

Pustaha written by Guru Abinsahan

In the Dousa Special Collections Reading Room, Pop-up exhibitions were made throughout the day. Unfortunately we could only see one. For next time, yes please, University Leiden, make it a two day thing. Everything on the program was amazing, but impossible to see it all. 
Anyway, I found a new place to live. No seriously, but I wouldn't mind to spend a couple of days there. What a marvellous collection of books! Liesbeth Ouwehand made a selection of books with and from animals! I joked I wouldn't get this close again to a tiger ever again, so here was my chance! Next to it was a bookcover made of crocodile-skin, wauw!
Also a selection was made of books in different forms like the magic books, Pustaha, from Sumatra. So special to see these beautiful books up close, I took many pictures so I could share some with you!

Exercise in letter writing with illustration of bird"
Look at all the patterns in the borders

"Tatimbai Anak Dalom, a Lampung tale of a young man, Anak Dalom, 
living at the court of Bangkalulu who sails to Petani to abduct his two chosen brides"
 Lampung is the region at the southern tip of Sumatra, Indonesia

Part a collection of 31 fables with mostly birds as main figures, 
look at this Pino kind of bird, lovely!

Pustaha written by Guru so Matahut 

A Waringa from before 1896

Manuscript in 3 volumes dedicated to insects and amphibians, around 1656, 
Mayor of Delft and collector Hendrik d'Acquet commissioned artist to make drawings after his impressive animal collection

Watercolour by R.B. Djajeng Soedhirdja, made in 1904. 
It shows the Sultan of Yogyakarta and his followers on their way to visit the Dutch Resident

See the whole, 25 meters long, watercolour online on

Apparently anyone, not only students, scholars or professors, can use the Asian Library and make appointments to see the special collections. Also they are working on digitalising parts of their collection. There is now a crowdfunding to scan the 250 ancient tales of Prince Panji which will not only make them available for a wider audience, they will also be preserved.

Can't wait to visit the Asian Library again!

* For more about my film 'The journey to Batik-Tari batik' and for screening info, visit and/or send me an email

October 28, 2017

Is Batik Fair?

Guave presented their Batik cap collection at the Fair Fashion Festival 22 October in Utrecht

Wastra Indonesia event at the Indonesia Embassy on 24 July

After seeing Batik being presented as Fair Fashion a couple of times, I think it is a good moment to dive in this terminology. It seems Fair is the magic word right now in fashion, design and food. I heard during a talk, I believe it was a one of the Meet Up's at Centraal Museum, that food is a good indication when it comes to what people want. And that you can predict what people want fashion-wise in the next decade. Fashion is the last to join the party when it comes to trends even though it presents itself as being the first.
In the food section we already are aware of and are choosing more and more fair, organic, eco friendly, local and vegan products. Where first we look at our wallets, more people now start making a choice for healthy, sustainable goods. The shift in fashion is becoming visible as well. But with a big difference. In the supermarket you have to make choices between organic flown in strawberries from Spain or pesticide covered ones from the farmer in the area, but in fashion industry these little, big impact distinctions are harder to spot.
Take for example Adidas. I visited their website a while ago to see if I can find if they make Fair, Sustainable, Eco friendly Fashion. I mean a big brand like that surely has the money, and therefor knowledge and opportunity, to make their product in a responsible way. When I look at their sustainability progress report I see a lot of "We will"'s, but not many "We have"'s. At the same time their 'We will''s give them this free pass to produce in the fashion they are doing. I'm not saying Adidas is evil, but they are not anywhere near being sustainable either.
In my previous post A search for sustainable shoes, I already wrote about brands that are considered fair or sustainable and mostly are selling us their good intentions. So what is fair fashion and how does it apply to Batik?

My Batik Buketan temporary carpet at Museum Batik in Pekalongan, Java 
made from materials used for natural dye, 2016

Fair Fashion consist of many labels, which are mainly freely interpretable. Most are based on improving labour standards such as a living wage, a fair price for the product, reasonable hours. Also no discrimination or child labour are strong points in Fair fashion. Sustainability or how eco friendly the fashion is made is mostly linked to safe and healthy working conditions and respecting the environment. There are no actual standards for when is it a fair price or what are reasonable hours.
Mostly this depends on what is the standard in the country where the product is being made and therefor with a little extra a fair label is easily reached.
Also when we hear Fair, we not only think of Fair Trade, we also think of how sustainable the product is. So Fair is also used for products which are bio or organic, an eco friendly alternative or produced with zero waste, cradle to cradle, zero emission or with re-used materials.
Next to this we als think that handmade is also more fair then mass-production and if only one part of the entire process had one of the elements I mentioned above, it can be Fair Fashion (or design, or food).
Now, I'm not saying something can only be Fair if it good on all fronts. If you try to truly make a Fair product, you will decide to make nothing. When I'm talking about Fair, I'm more referring to the choice of the buyer. If you are a conscious consumer you already know that labels are guidelines, even marketing tools, but not the whole story. And before you can make a good choice, you need to inform yourself.
And what is important to you can be different to what I find important and it can vary per product. For example, I find a natural, biological, eco friendly made products super important, but when it comes to Batik, my idea about it is different.
During the Mini-Batik Symposium in Köln I met Reynold Rudyismanto. Reynold is studying his Master in Law researching how and if Indonesian batik should get a “Voluntary EU-Ecolabel”:

The EU Ecolabel scheme is part of the sustainable consumption and production policy of the Community, which aims at reducing the negative impact of consumption and production on the environment, health, climate and natural resources. The scheme is intended to promote those products which have a high level of environmental performance through the use of the EU Ecolabel. To this effect, it is appropriate to require that the criteria with which products must comply in order to bear the EU Ecolabel be based on the best environmental performance achieved by products on the Community market. 
The core purpose of the research is to find the most appropriate policy the Indonesian government can make to support the batik industries with natural dyes which in the end could increase the export value of Indonesian batik textile in the international market, especially in European Union, where it is believed to be a very good market for environment-friendly products.

Reynold concludes his research that there is a market for Batik and especially sustainable Batik on certainly the Dutch and probably the European market. But my question is does promoting "sustainable Batik" help Batik makers or the Art of making Batik?
I asked this question, because when I met Reynold again it was at the 'Wastra Indonesia' event organised by the Indonesian Embassy. Promoting "Sustainable textiles" and getting an eco-label for Batik were part of the program. Nothing wrong with that and some lovely Indigo, Blue and Sogan, brown Batiks were presented. My problem, or better my concern is with the makers of these textiles. I already noticed on Java that producing with natural dyes was something celebrities and royalties were doing. I noticed that so called natural dyed Batiks were extremely expensive compared to chemical dyed ones. The colours mainly consist of vague brown shades and Indigo. I was already warned that most natural dye is not really natural dye, because part of the process is still chemical or chemical dyes are mixed in to get a lasting colour. The lasting of the colour is a problem. Where chemical dyed Batiks can keep their colours for decades, natural dyes fade quickly. If you want a good price for your Batik, the consumer wants a Batik that keeps its colours. The story on that it is better for the environment, which can be argued about, is only reaching those who can afford it. Afford to make it and to wear/use it. The Batik makers I met 7 years ago switched back to using chemical dyes after not being able to make a good quality, good priced product with natural dye. And here lies the problem. If celebraties and royalties with the right connections and right price, because I'm sure they are getting more than a fair price, can make Batiks that fit the eco-label, because they use natural dyes, what effect will this have on the Art of Batik and its makers? How will this effect the price Batik makers get for their chemical dyed Batiks and how does it improve their chances on making their product more sustainable? Who will benefit from this? If you consider that the maker is getting the least paid already, how can this improve with an eco-label on the market?
There is a true problem with chemical dyes and the waste produced with making Batik and there is a true health risk involved. But this will not disappear by introducing something unreachable for many. It can disappear by education, support and sharing knowledge. The Art of dyeing with natural dyes has been lost almost a century ago on Java and it's not getting restored by trying to re-invent it. Get people from all over the world who do know how to use natural dye to the Batik makers, get people who can make safe drainage, who can help with waste-disposal. People who can inform Batik makers on how to get a fair price for their products. And what is a fair price? Put money in making it better for the makers of Batik, Pembatiks, not in Batik product placement and "Fair" market expansion.
And besides, isn't there a bigger, more polluting industry that you should be dealing with? People are pointing fingers to Batik makers, but they are not making the rivers red, or blue or purple. It is our "normal" textile industry who does that!

So is Batik Fair Fashion, or can it be Fair fashion? Yes and no. Batik is fair when it is bought for the right price and from the right person, preferable directly from the maker or from a seller you can really trust. Batik is fair when it is handmade under the right conditions. Batik is not necessarily more fair when it is made with natural dye although I hope in the near future there is more being done on improving the conditions in which Batik is produced as I mentioned above.

Thanks Reynold for sharing your research with me!
Lets see how this develops, I'll keep you updated here on The journey to Batik!

October 21, 2017

The Lady Africa Wax Print

Power Suit Meet up, Creating the bag that goes with the suit

A few months ago Irene Hin of Lady Africa asked me to write and research some things for an upcoming project. The last few weeks it's been shown on the catwalk and in a museum. I'm talking about the Lady Africa Power Suit!
When I heard Lady Africa was planning to use a newly designed Wax Print from Julius Holland Wax for their contribution for the Fashion Cities Africa exhibition at the Tropenmuseum, I got so excited. It was great to follow the creative process and seeing the final Power Suit on display and on the ever so elegant model Dorothe Schiks at the Fashionshow in Rotterdam & Den Haag. Only a third of what I wrote actually made it to the exhibition, so time to share more about it here!

Dorothe Schiks in the Lady Africa Power Suit 
at the Fashionshow in Rotterdam on 1 October

First, Lady Africa. I met Irene during the first Africa Fashion Week in Amsterdam in 2014. I was literally drooling over this Christie Brown Wax Print textile cords necklace a girl was wearing, when Irene introduced herself and explained this necklace was available at her store. After that I visited the shop at the Denneweg in Den Haag (NL) a couple of times, saw a fashionshow by Lady Africa in Den Haag, which was a proper party and we kept in touch through Social Media. Our love for Wax Prints and other gorgeous textiles is something that keeps us connected.
Next to the wonderful brands from the continent, Lady Africa started making their own custom LA line. Pencil skirts, jackets, custom made designs, A-shape dresses and much more is created by a tailor team in which Florence Hin, Irene's mother, plays an important role. She is LA Senior Fashion Advisor and if you see what her hands can do with fabric, amazing!

Detail of the Brilliantly printed Wax Print by Julius Holland Wax

For their LA custom-made line they work with textiles by Julius Holland Wax. In 2002 Jansen-Naninck in Helmond (NL) started producing their own Wax Print brand, Julius Holland Wax. The family business was already trading textiles since 1935 and if you've ever been there you know its a true candy-store for everyone who loves prints, patterns & textiles.
For the Power Suit a new, not yet on the market, design by Julius Holland Wax was used. The normal wax print version with big, abstract flowers in yellow and blue was used for the handbag made by Marianne Aulmann. For the suit the same pattern was used, but in a Brilliantly print. So with a nice chique silver shimmery finish.

Detail of Power Suit bag designed by Marianne Aulmann

The choice for a custom Lady Africa Power Suit, came from the idea to make a tribute to the strong women who inspired Irene and Gumi to start Lady Africa in 2011. The strong women in Ghana where Irene was born. How the women pass on their knowledge and strength to their daughters. The women in Irene's life, her family. Her mother who is now her Fashion advisor with her wide knowledge of tailorship. Her grandmother who was an entrepreneur herself and sold Vlisco fabrics on the market. A Power Suit Tribute for Strong Women.
The great thing about new Wax Print designs is that they don't have a name yet, and that the name comes most times from how and when it was introduced to the market. So meet Julius Holland Wax: Lady Africa

You can see the Power Suit on display as part of the exhibition Fashion Cities Africa at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam with lovely other fashion from Casablanca (Morocco), Johannesburg (South-Africa), Lagos (Nigeria), Nairobi (Kenya) and the Netherlands.

You can shop Lady Africa custom line at Denneweg 21A in Den Haag. For new arrivals check out, their Facebook or Instagram!

For more on Wax prints, read my previous posts "Wax Prints are based on Javanese Batiks, But what is a Batik and which elements can still be found in todays Wax Prints?", 'Take some elsewhere, and let some come back to me' or use label 'Wax print'