‘Confirmation that performance is part of the fashion craft’

Intuitive, investigative, interdisciplinary, confident, groundbreaking, a textbook example for a new fashion generation. With those words, the winner of the Mode Stipendium 2022 was announced on Wednesday evening in the Hermitage in Amsterdam: Maison the Faux, the fashion house of Joris Suk and Tessa de Boer.

By winning the important Dutch fashion prize, Maison the Faux joins a row of prestigious makers: Claes Iversen, Erik Frenken, Bas Kosters, Ronald van der Kemp and Iris van Herpen, among others, preceded Maison the Faux. Like them, Suk and De Boer will receive an amount of fifty thousand euros to further develop themselves artistically and professionally. FashionUnited will speak to the two the day before the ceremony via Zoom.

Outside the lines

De Boer and Suk have been aware of this for some time: earlier this spring the team of the Mode Stipendium was standing at their doorstep ‘completely à la Postcode Loterij’ with flowers and a camera crew, Suk says with a laugh. They were taken aback, and proud. “It’s a dream to win this prize,” says a delighted De Boer. Suk nods. “It is not just the amount of money, but also that we are now part of this ‘Hall of Fame’ of Dutch designers.” De Boer adds: “The recognition that our work is important for Dutch fashion. That is very special.”

For a moment, Suk and De Boer thought that the Dutch fashion landscape ‘had perhaps forgotten them a bit’, says Suk. In recent years, Maison the Faux has increasingly moved in the direction of other disciplines: from theater to performance and scenography. The fashion remained, but making entire collections and holding catwalk shows, the duo has not been doing that for a while.

Maison the Faux was never a traditional fashion house. Since the label was founded in 2015, De Boer and Suk have been coloring outside the box. Their work stems from an interest in existing assumptions in the fashion industry: ideas about what is beautiful and what is ugly, what is real and what is fake. Suk and de Boer have the same fascination for the forms and customs that exist in the fashion world and that are somehow absurd, yet are considered quite normal. For example, think of large-scale, immersive catwalk shows or glossy advertisements. De Boer: “Maison the Faux was born from a very intense love for fashion, but at the same time a very intense need to turn it all upside down.”

The presentation of the Spring-Summer 2017 collection, entitled ‘Chubby Chaser’, during New York Fashion Week in 2016. Photo: Team Peter Stigter

Patent leather, faux fur and mirror palaces

Until now, this was expressed in collections in which good taste and kitsch clashed very hard. In previous looks, they combined patent leather, logos and faux fur with razor-sharp tailoring. Bottom layers became top layers, inside became outside. Their shows became an extension of their critical examination of the hows and whys of the fashion industry. During a show in 2016 they literally let the fashion world look in the mirror: they built a mirror palace on the catwalk and put crush barriers in front of it. The audience was led by this and got the impression that they were queuing up for a show, but in fact the show took place around them: models walked around the fences and ordered the visitors around. With this kind of reversal, Maison the Faux exposed the mechanisms of the industry.

In recent years, Maison the Faux has increasingly focused on the concept of clothes. De Boer: “The show has always been the most important part of what we did. We actually started to delve even more into elements that were always present in it: the tension, the course of a show, what happens there, what do you see?” Clothing is no longer the center of attention, but one of the elements in a total work of art that leans more towards performance: take the artistic experience which they developed together with artist Stef Van Looveren in the Compagnietheater, or their current project, Cradle Nip Go. That too is somewhere between theater and art installation. That Maison the Faux de Gieskes-Strijbis Podium Award won, underlines the current presence of Suk and De Boer in the world of performance and the performing arts.

With the times

The fact that Maison the Faux has now also won a prestigious fashion award is ‘extra special’, says Suk. “I think it’s crazy that we are given that prize. With that, the organization says: we see that the performative aspect of fashion is also part of the craft.” De Boer: “Fashion continuously tries to relate to a changing world. The discipline is constantly reinventing itself, and what we do is part of that. That applies to every winner, each of them symbolizes a different development in fashion as far as we are concerned. They are all so different. That’s what I love about this price: it moves with the times.”

Still from the performance ’12’, a collaboration between Maison the Faux and Stef Van Looveren. Photo: Atelier Pamfilie

To what extent do Suk and De Boer still really see themselves as fashion designers? Suk: “Fashion is still at the heart of what we make, but in a different way. Our work is no longer about producing a collection.” De Boer: “For us, fashion is a means of communicating ideas, more than a way of selling products. The two of us are terrible fashion freaks, and that will never go away. Fashion will always be part of our practice, but perhaps it will be less recognizable at first glance. And in some projects fashion will be more prominent than in others.”

The duo also does not rule out the possibility of a full fashion collection in the future, complete with fashion week presentation. Suk: “Who knows, maybe in six months we will suddenly find it very important to launch another collection into the world. We like that element of surprise. Of course you don’t always have to work in the same line.” The price does make it possible for Maison the Faux to do more long-term planning, says De Boer. “The award gives us a lot of financial security, allowing us to be more selective in what we do and don’t do and look further ahead.”

About the Fashion Stipendium

The Fashion Stipendium is an initiative of the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds and is implemented by the Dutch Fashion Foundation. The prize came about in 2011 thanks to a gift from a patron who wishes to remain anonymous, but who has a warm heart for Dutch fashion. The award is intended for established designers who have created at least fifteen collections. The stipend should enable them to develop further artistically and professionally. It is the largest cash prize in fashion in the Netherlands.


Source: fashionunited.nl by fashionunited.nl.

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