A GOLDEN RENAISSANCE – An interview with designer Teun Seuren
Fashionclash#11 – All photos by Cinta Janssen. KALTBLUT checks in with one one of our favourite emerging designers Teun Seuren in the aftermath of his brand new collection at Fashionclash, talking all things Voguing, gender oppression, queer celebration and how to make a bodysuit from not one, but many, broken Chandeliers. You’re welcome.teunseuren.nl
KALTBLUT: What have you been up to since we last spoke?
TS: Well where shall I start. After I presented the ‘I Decline’ collection I was asked by Fashionclash to cooperate with Opera Zuid, to design a production of Offenbach’s ‘Fantasio’.
The opera wanted to work with four different designers to design five individual looks to dress the fools of the play. This was a completely new experience for me, but I had so much fun working with the people from the atelier. Finally, I could embrace my theatrical self and focus purely on the expressions and egos of my looks. I wanted to create five fully individual characters without losing my identity as a designer.
After this amazing experience I was very inspired by the work I made, and So I started to work on my new collection straight away. During this process lots of things happened personally, I feel more powerful than ever, personally, mentally and professionally.
KALTBLUT: You recently launched a brand new collection at Fashionclash. How did this collection come about and what was the inspiration behind it?
TS: The new collection is called: ‘A GOLDEN RENASSAINCE’ and revolves around showcasing femininity within male gender. In a society in which we are still attached to a masculine male gender, and where femininity is still often suppressed, I go back to our innocent childhood. In which we expressed ourselves without thinking about social stigmas and rules, where we embrace and respect each other as individuals. Unfortunately, we poison ourselves as we become more aware of social norms. In which we justify ourselves with words such as tolerance and see this as something positive. In this collection you can see the grim side and duality of these polluted words. Reshaping the concept of masculinity and femininity to celebrate a more diverse and equal world.
KALTBLUT: Your new collection really pushes the boundaries of gender further than your previous collections,why have you decided to push this?
TS: I think it has to do a lot with me as a person. I am still growing and searching for my position in the fashion industry. But where better to start than your inner self. During this year I’ve grown much more confident in who I am as a person, and that reflects on me as a designer. Also, my perspective on the world has expanded as I’ve grown involved with different cultures and movements that inspired me so much that I could not resist in referencing in my work. I think all these elements make this collection what it is, it’s a reflection on how I personally experience the world. Genderfluid and free of boundaries.
KALTBLUT: Again, gender is a major element in your design aesthetic, what motivates you to make garments that transform others’ opinions on what it means to be masculine or feminine?
TS: I think self-expression is something we have to value more than ever. I see gender as a binary thing, feeling more femme one day than the other is natural for me. I want to celebrate the diversity of gender and how we also can express ourselves without putting ourselves into automatically categorised genders.
KALTBLUT: Do you feel as a designer, you have a duty to react to the current ‘spirit’ of the times, how do you think current events or cultural movements influence you as a designer?
TS: Yes, I think definitely as a gay designer I have to react to current issues of this time. We as a community had to fight a long battle for acceptance, and we are still fighting on a daily basis. By using these issues in my work, I want to represent a more diverse world, and make my mark on how the world is polluted by social norms and stigmas.
KALTBLUT: Are you influenced by any current trends or movements at the moment?
TS: For me as a designer I get inspired by all kinds of movements from within the LGBQTI world. Currently I am really inspired by the Vogue Ball community, because they strive for a total safe space for every person who is at these events. I think this strive, and also how they express their individuality is something so special that we all have to value that message. It is also very inspiring to see how they play with the aspects of gender and identity through clothing and costume. This was a huge inspiration for my collection.
KALTBLUT: Tell me about some of the fabrics and materials you have decided to work with for this collection? Why did you choose to use these specific fabrics?
TS: I had to tell a story of duality. A beautiful but also grim collection. I had this amazing filthy green satin I fell instantly in love with, so I definitely had to work with that. After some experiments I noticed that this fabric had also a very elegant and sleek fit. It was almost like liquid, this captured the duality of the grandeur and elegance of some of the pieces.
KALTBLUT: Do you have a favourite piece from the collection?
TS: Definitely the crystal body suit, it’s all made out of recycled chandeliers I got from thrift stores and people who wanted to get rid of them. I had to break down the chandeliers to individual stones, wash them, and then carefully constructed them to a suit. It took me so many hours to make it to the design I wanted, but after the first fitting it broke down completely. After adjusting the piece to the final result it worked so effortlessly on the runway. It was a true showstopping moment.
KALTBLUT: Are you inspired by any fashion muses? If so who, why and how have they shaped you as a designer?
TS: I have three people who inspired me so much during this collection. First of all, my dear friend Dennis Bijleveld aka IAMMAMAQUEEN, he was my muse and opened for the collection. I think he is the absolute human form of androgyny, and he has this out of this world kind of vibe within him, as a person he is the sweetest most devoted person I know.
Second is Loena Maas, she is a drag queen with a huge heart, she is also a very hard-working lady in the business and a sweetheart to be with. She has leveled herself towards a fashion icon which is very impressive. And last but not least, Elio Heres, he is the embodiment of self-expression, he is truly, truly himself and is not afraid of showing that. He is also a very big fan of my work, so we lift each other up.
KALTBLUT: Finally, What was your favourite part of making this collection?
TS: It was not a part of making the actual collection, but the day of the presentation was my most favourite part. To have such amazing models who pushed themselves to express their inner diva was an amazing transition during the whole day. At a sudden moment, people from make up were teaching the models how to work on their fierce walk and poses. The final show was the gag of the day, after rehearsals I was not sure if they all would deliver the message, but looking backstage on a very blurry screen seeing the models strut like Linda Evangelista was out of this world for me. I was so blessed and amazed by the professionalism of the models and the fierceness they delivered on the final moment.
KALTBLUT: Bonus question, if you could describe this collection in one word what would it be?
TS:‘A movement’, this collection is just the beginning.