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    Illuminating the Future of Fashion


    A guest article by Philips RetailScene

    Can you imagine a garment that reacts to emotions? Or lace patterns that grow from a plant? Sounds like something from the future, right? Well, think again!

    These, and more innovative takes on fashion, are being showcased at Rotterdam’s Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, as part of the international exhibition The Future of Fashion is Now.


    Philips Retail Lighting is proud to literally shed light on the work of over fifty fashion designers from around the world, including renowned names such as Viktor & Rolf, Hussein Chalayan, Iris van Herpen and upcoming talents such as Craig Green, Rejina Pyo and Pauline van Dongen. RetailScene payed a visit to a collaboration that seems ‘spot on’.

    Real Fashion

    “Fashion today is about asking questions and no longer about giving answers,” says José Teunissen, guest curator of The Future of Fashion is No. “And because the world is so connected nowadays, fashion designers from all over the globe are engaged in the same social issues. Fashion is much more part of reality now. There’s a new generation of fashion designers that embraces technology, believes in the power of materials and thinks that fashion should be socially involved.”

    Sjarel Ex, director of Museum Boijmans van Beuningen adds: “For this exhibition, which is on fashion and involvement, the lighting plan has proven to be a crucial element of this immersive experience.”

    Underlining the Light

    With fashion and lighting in mind, visitors experience the exhibition’s four themes, starting at ‘Materiality and Experience’. While their eyes glide over the light consuming Wearable Solar dress, designed by Pauline van Dongen, visitors also encounter mintdesign’s Dazzling Puzzling installation, combining fashion and light projection.

    Bob Verhelst, scenographer of The Future of Fashion is Now, explains: “I wanted this space to be lit with clear, white light. No distractions, so the visitor can focus on the materials and techniques of the designs. The lights in the walls of recycled crates add lightness and transparency. They prevent the walls from turning into a heavy, dead surface.” Fortunately, Philips Retail Lighting had the solution, as Didie Schackman, Marketing Communication manager, comments: “We knew that Philips lighting solutions StyliD with innovative LED technology CrispWhite would meet [Verhelst’s] wishes.”

    “For any fashion exhibition the lighting is very important, The Future of Fashion is Now is no exception. Take, for instance, this room themed ‘The (Re)Defining of the Human Figure,” Verhelst continues. “The overall red light that is used here enhances the unnatural shapes and silhouettes of the designs.”

    One design making use of this lighting choice is a garment from Comme des Garçons’ groundbreaking ‘Lumps and Bumps’ S/S 1997 collection. It’s a dress made of translucent chiffon, and padded with cushions on the bottom, shoulders and back creating a new human silhouette. Presenting the work of emerging talents alongside established names shows that the origin of some of these future visions go back many years.

    Next up is the theme ‘New Values and New Stories’. Hers, the museum has a worldwide premiere: the presentation of Viktor & Rolf’s A/W 2013 collection. A complete Zen garden setting but in miniature size, the presentation is a plea for a slower pace and more spirituality in the fashion world. 

    On the Edge

    More new works are on display here, made by six participating fashion designers. They were granted the Han Nefkens Fashion on the Edge Award, which enabled them to make new pieces especially for the exhibition.

    Fashion designer Iris van Herpen is one recipient of the award. Movement is a recurring theme in van Herpen’s designs; for her, “forms complement and change the body and thus the emotion.”

    Van Herpen doesn’t shy away from new technologies such as 3D printing, combining them with craftsmanship within her work. This approach has led to many spectacular collections. For example, the Ferro Fluid Dress, premiering at the exhibition, is a 3D-printed dress laid in a container filled with ferriferous (iron-bearing) liquid. The garment changes shape due to the installation’s magnetic field causing the liquid to stick to the dress.

    Visitors leave the exhibition through the pleasantly lit room of the last theme, ‘Fashion Activism: Community and Politics’. This area also includes Philips Luminous Textile Soft Cells, used here to create a feeling of daylight that slowly taking the visitors back to reality.

    In passing through this room, another commissioned piece is shown: Our Home by Dooling Jiang of Digest Design Workshop. It’s an installation of connecting coats with long black flaps, made of traditional Chinese fabric, arranged to form a tent. The colors and textures are again beautifully highlighted by StylID CrispWhite spotlights.

    With this fresh image in mind, fashion experts and lovers leave The Future of Fashion is Now enlightened and inspired. The future of fashion and lighting is something to look forward to!

    The Future of Fashion is Now took place from October 2014 till January 18, 2015. Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Museumpark 18-20 in Rotterdam.

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