KALTBLUT gets up and personal with Dutch graduate designer Teun Seuren, talking gender fluidity, avoiding Anna Wintour, snogging Candy Ken, obsessing over diamonds and serving his own unique brand of protest fashion. A KALTBLUT favourite from Fashionclash Festival.
KALTBLUT: Tell me how you first became interested in fashion and why you decided to become a fashion designer?
TEUN: When I was a little boy I was always in my grandmother’s attic where she had her atelier. Once I made a small collection of clothing (out of old curtains and fabrics) for my nieces which they then presented in a mini fashion show for our relatives. This memory always stayed with me and shaped my decision to start designing on my own. Also, the AW 2009-10 collection from Alexander McQueen. The collection ‘Horn of plenty’ was for me groundbreaking and an awakening that I wanted to become a designer just like him.
KALTBLUT: Your collections reference to gender identity and sexuality, what is it about these specific themes that you like to incorporate?
TEUN: As a gay person it’s important to stand up for your rights and to fight for equality. You should be able to express yourself in any way you want, even if that means going against any predetermined norms regarding gender. We should be respecting each other regardless of how we dress or live our life. As a designer, I use these themes to do my part in ending the stigma around certain ways of dressing.
KALTBLUT: With so many young designers tackling issues of gender identity and sexual culture what do you think makes you stand out?
TEUN: What makes me unique within this group of designers is that I’m predominantly a menswear designer exploring the boundary between male and female. My work can be very dark at times and slightly provocative on occasion, but the themes I address are often about finding light in the darkness. I often explain it as Protest fashion.
KALTBLUT: Where do you find your inspiration for your collections?
TEUN: My inspiration usually comes from experimenting. Often there is already a certain colour in my head that I might want to work with. With the colour in my mind, I collect different materials and I will start experimenting with them. In general, I play with archetypal aspects of femininity and I turn it into a more masculine form.
KALTBLUT: Where do you feel the most inspired?
TEUN: Probably when I’m in my room listening to music. I love music and if I could I’d listen to it 24/7. Whenever I hear any kind of music it transports me to an imaginary world. For me it’s not where I get inspired but how the place and sound combine and where it takes me within this imaginary world.
KALTBLUT: Tell me about your new collection. What are the main ideas and design concepts you have adopted?
TEUN: My new collection is going to be rough, sexy and savage. A dark take where I test the delicate boundaries of our tolerance. How poisoned the word is and how we all believe in being well-informed by tolerance.
KALTBLUT: What do you think makes themes such as gender and sexual identity such attractive topics when it comes to fashion and designing clothes with these ideas in mind?
TEUN: I think it has to do with the fact that it is all linked to liberation. We are all very busy to provide a more friendly world in any way. On the social level, equality and acceptance heavily discussed topics. I also think that in these areas there is still a lot to explore within the realm of fashion. It’s the perfect platform to address these topics.
KALTBLUT: Do you have any artists, musicians, celebrities etc who you would love to dress? Or who inspires you as a designer?
TEUN: Yeah, I definitely would love to design a look for Perfume Genius, and I would die to design something for Lady Gaga. For me, Anohni is one of the most inspiring artists at this moment. Her music is full of rage, hope and hopelessness.
KALTBLUT: How would you describe the local fashion scene/industry in the Netherlands?
TEUN: In the Netherlands, we are very busy with breaking boundaries. I also find that we work much more under the term human-wear, to break the stigma surrounding gender even further.
KALTBLUT: What does being an independent designer mean to you?
TEUN: For me, it means having the opportunity to further explore myself as an artist. Being an independent designer gives me the freedom to take any path I choose. I know I want to be a great success, but in what way or how I don’t know yet. Right now I’m happy evolving and adapting this for myself bit by bit.
KALTBLUT: Tell me more about your ‘I DECLINE’ collection? What made you create such a statement collection?
TEUN: The I decline collection originated from the project God is a Woman, in which we had to give our own take on religion. I thought it was a difficult subject because I’d never had anything to do with religion personally. Also, being a flamboyantly gay person I’ve yet to feel accepted by most religions. So I decided to incorporate this into my concept for a religion, which was all about being yourself. This collection was a final battle for acceptance in which we decline to be unaccepted.
KALTBLUT: You are described as a “menswear designer”. What do you like most about making clothing for “men”?
TEUN: Menswear is still very much miles behind womenswear. I love to blur the line between the binary, while still maintaining a masculine feel.
KALTBLUT: If you had an unlimited budget a la Balmain, what would you make and why?
TEUN: I am obsessed with diamonds, so I would definitely make a collection that would consist entirely of diamonds. No centimetre of fabric would be visible. I would present this in a gigantic castle in which a room is also completely covered with diamonds. Giant men covered in diamonds, who strut over the diamond floor wearing a subtle heel which would crack the floor into little pieces.
KALTBLUT: What are you most excited about for 2019?
TEUN: I am most excited about the show at Fashionclash in November, I have a feeling this collection is going to turn the tables for me as a designer. I am also excited to see the results of the designs I made for “Opera Zuid”.
KALTBLUT: If you could Marry, Snog & Avoid three famous fashion icons/peeps who would it be?
Marry: Viktor & Rolf. But only if I could wear one of their latest statement pieces to the wedding. Snog: Candy Ken, he is absolutely amazing. He has an intense muscular body and only wears thongs and pink stuff while not giving a damn. Avoid Anna Wintour, just her.
KALTBLUT: Last item of clothing you purchased?
TEUN: Silver leather Cuban boots with a subtle heel. I love a subtle heel.
KALTBLUT: Finally, words to live by?
TEUN: Dream big and aim for the highest.
Checkout Teun Seuren’s collections here www.instagram.com/teun_seuren
Words by Lewis Robert Cameron