Fashionclash Festival 2017: Maarten Van Mulken

One To Watch from Fashionclash Festival 2017! Young designer Maarten Van Mulken is one of my personal favourite designers from the Netherlands. His design is unique and filled with ideas. In Maastricht he presented his award winning collection: Killing your darlings. Read our interview with Maarten below. 


Name: Maarten Van Mulken / Age: 26 / Hometown: Maastricht / Menswear or Womenswear: Womanswear (most of the time)

KALTBLUT: Does fashion makes sense?
MAARTEN: Fashion for me does make sense in a lot of ways, but at the same time it doesn’t. It’s a really complex issue to adress and there are no real answers for it. There are so many people who would like to see the system being changed and a lot of them already conquering this for themselfs.

But at the same time there are a lot of people in the end who just talk about it but when it gets to difficult or they have to give up things to get tot heir ideals they stop.

What I find most interesting in fashion nowadays and why therefor fashion makes sense to me, is the billinguality of fashion. You can create beautiful garments that people would love to wear for years, you can make garments that are enviromental and people friendly, you can make clothes that are way ahead with techniques that seem still futuristic and you can make clothes that get people talking, or even you can even create art with fabric.

The main point of it all is that fashion keeps making sense as long as people keep thinking and discussing about why they choose what they choose or why they don’t care at all. That for me is why fashion makes sense, as long as you have a well overthought choice in what you wear or create or how you want to live your life we can change a lot of things already in our society. And that’s why fashion is making more and more sense because it adresses people more and more to think for themselfs what they find important to pursue in their own ideals.

KALTBLUT: Hello. Welcome to KALTBLUT. Why have you decided to participate at FASHIONCLASH Festival?
MAARTEN: The festival gives something more than ‘just’ fashion. It clashes fashion with all disciplines of art and lets the audience be a part of something bigger than just watching, it lets you think.

FASHIONCLASH Festival gives young designers, artists and performers the chance to show themselves and to develop themselves for the future. The festival has a unique way of approaching design and art that suits the way our system is evolving into something new. I find the festival, for myself, one of the few festivals that really looks at what you want to do or present and try to find a way together to present it in the best way which makes the overall experience better. It’s a festival open for everybody, it’s not exclusive but inclusive and for those reasons I really like participating for FASHIONCLASH Festival.

KALTBLUT: Can you tell us something about the collection you presented at the FASHIONCLASH Festival 2017? What was your inspiration?
MAARTEN: They call deleting ideas ‘killing your darlings’, but often good ideas are being cancelled instead of the weakest. The general idea is getting dumbed-down to make it more commercial and gain more money. This to me refers to fashion being dead, because it’s all about just selling as much as possible these days.

Fashion to me is not dead, it just needs to change into a new form and people need to be encouraged to pursue their ideals/ideas instead of killing them.

There is NOT one answer in fashion or life, there is NOT one designer that knows it all, NOT one panel of people that judges what’s in or not. It’s time for the masses to choose for themselves again.

This collection is about making people aware of the problem. Death is a natural part of life, and therefor to short to make compromises. The collection does not give an answer but lets people think about their life and goals and lets them think about how to reflect on their own lives.

The overall look of the collection is being visualized by the idea of a club vibe. Where ideas come to life, where you can think and act freely instead of being pushed down. The vivid colors, the glitter and the aggressiveness of it refer to this. The stripes are referring to danger and the ‘dying flowerprint’ refers to death, but also to ‘Les Fleurs du Mal’ from Charles Baudelair. It goes about the never reachable and pursuing your own ideals.

Further the collection is build up out of archetypes. The cheerleader, the rocker, the schoolgirl, the gala dress, the rebel.. This, going back to the 80’s horror movies, where no one’s safe, everybody has to fight to earn their place.

The collection is full of clashing effects and contracts. It’s about death and that it is a natural part of life, but at the same time it’s about not letting your ideas die. It is about anarchism in fashion, but at the same time keeping it true and well-crafted and refined clothing. It’s about serious couture, but at the same time about rebelling against it and living the life you want. No one else can and should tell you otherwise.

In the end it’s a big middle-finger against the statement ‘fashion is dead’ and that you should never kill your darlings but that you should pursue all of your own ideals.

KALTBLUT: What kind of material did you used for the collection?
MAARTEN: For this collection, I used a lot of different materials. For the draping in process I used a lot of old sheets and clothing. This in a part of recycling instead of using meters of new cotton.

For the collection itself I used rich silks and cottons. A few pieces have also got leftover fabrics in the design, this to reduce waste. On a lot of fabrics I applied silk-screen printing to make the message more clear and the fabric more ‘my fabric’. The other prints I handmade and later printed on the fabric to gain more authentic fabrics. Next to the rich fabrics I used plastic to refer to the waste material and embroideried sequins to visualize the idea more.

KALTBLUT: What challenges did you face during the design process?
MAARTEN: The biggest challenge for me was making the first collection where no teachers were involved. There is not really or nearly feedback and so I had to make a lot of decisions myself, which was fun but nerve-racking. The other challenge was time management. There was more going one this year than last year and next to it I doubled the outfits and the pressure to make my work even more ‘me’ then last year. But these were in the end fun challenges and lets you reflect in what you can or can’t do for next collections.

KALTBLUT: How would you describe yourself and your work?
MAARTEN: Slightly chaotic, extremely motivated and I always have fun during the making of a collection. I think this also reflects to my work. Because I try to always find serious subjects and make a collection out of it with a statement that’s often somewhat darker, but always with fun elements in it so I don’t have to take fashion too serious. It’s rebellious and slightly anarchic but with a look to couture and with fun in designing it.

KALTBLUT: What would you say that is the biggest influence to your design process?
MAARTEN: My biggest influence are social and cultural issues we have at the moment in our society. These problems I try to address within the system and always link them to an overall theme that combines really well with the issue and tells a story. My designs don’t all have to have the visual appeal for the audience but have to let the viewer think, rather than just hearing if it’s ugly or nice.

KALTBLUT: If you had not become a fashion designer, what would you do instead?
MAARTEN: In school I was always interested in science and before I wanted to do art school I always wanted to solve scientifical problems. So probably a scientist.

KALTBLUT: Who’s your dream client?
MAARTEN: My dream client would be a client that of course would like my clothing but next to this is a person that makes her own choices and stands for what she believes. A person that has a goal in life or a passion that she pursues. I would love to make designs in where I have the freedom to do whatever I want or where together we could make a statement. A sort of made-to-measure for an artist or public figure.

KALTBLUT: What was the first item you have ever designed? And who was the lucky one to get it?
MAARTEN: The first thing I ever designed was a bathing suit with headpiece attached to it (and over this a sort of cape/dress with embroidery). Nobody got it in the end but a housemate of mine had to test it and she got stuck in the suit which resulted in a drama in the middle of the night where I almost had to cut her out of my finished outfit, which luckily wasn’t needed haha.

KALTBLUT: What can we expect from you in near future?
MAARTEN: I hope that my own company keeps growing so that you will see more of my collections that are more sophisticated and where a can make a bigger statement. Next to that I hope to set up a production line that goes with my ideas and I hope to be keep doing social projects and to work for several theaters in the future.

KALTBLUT: Where can we buy your fashion?
MAARTEN: For now you can only contact/order my clothing through my site, but in the near future I also hope to have capsule collection pieces hanging in several stores.




Interview by Marcel Schlutt

photography: Team Peter Stigter