From vagina pants to Máxima’s wedding dress: new exhibition pays homage to Amsterdam fashion


The photographs of Maison Amsterdam illustrate the catwalk that are the streets of Amsterdam. Credit: Nederlands Fotomuseum / © Ed van der Elsken

Queen MThe áxima silk wedding dress and sensational “vagina pants” worn by pop artist Janelle Monáe are among the 150 extraordinary creations at Amsterdam House – The city, fashion, freedom, a celebration of Amsterdam’s contribution to the fashion world, which opened on Friday September 17th at the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam.

A real who’s who of the Amsterdam fashion world of yesterday and today, Amsterdam house dusted off the wonderfully nostalgic outfits of Max Heymans and Fong Leng and spotlighted bright newcomers such as digital fashion house The Manufacturer and Darwin Winklaar, winner of the prestigious 2020 Lichting Fashion Award.


Organizing a fashion exhibition featuring more than 70 designers and spanning 250 years of history was difficult enough for this collaboration between the Nieuwe Kerk and the Amsterdam Museum, but the 15e The spectacular architecture of the century church was a far cry from the white box curators are accustomed to working with.

“The church is fabulous, but it’s big enough,” Ninke Bloemberg, fashion curator at the Amsterdam museum, told “We used a lot of transparency… so that you can see the church while displaying the designs in a respectful manner. “

The place also aroused “very pleasant surprises”, explains Bloemberg, such as the play of colors obtained by placing the resplendent rainbow dress of Amsterdam (2016) in front of a stained glass window. It is hoped that the flags of non-LGBTQi + countries sewn into the 16m diameter skirt of this living work of art will transform over time as countries decriminalize same-sex relationships and a rainbow flag sky replaces their national colors on the dress.

Credit: Amsterdam Rainbow Dress, photo Dario & Misja, model Valentijn de Hingh

Strong points

The rainbow dress may be a sight to behold, but it’s the prospect of seeing Queen Máxima’s wedding dress that is sure to draw crowds – a marvel of embroidered lace and Mikado silk, and color more ivory with time.

The exhibition weaves a route through Amsterdam’s fashion districts, the rising brands of trendy Zeedijk, for example, and the grand architecture of the Leidseplein Hirsch & Cie department store, now the Apple Store, which has brought high-quality fashion to the capital in 1882 and inspired the backdrop for a 19-model parade at the heart of the exhibition.

On this catwalk, models sporting iconic Dutch labels such as Puck & Hans, whose flamboyant Rokin boutique was a honeypot for ’70s and’ 80s fashionistas, pose alongside contemporary pieces such as the provocative ‘vagina pants’ by Duran Lantink, the balloon pants in pink tulle, cotton and silk, made famous in Janelle Monáe’s 2018 pop video for the single PYNK.

Queen Máxima’s wedding dress will be the highlight of many visitors. Credit: Evert Elzinga


The exhibitions also speak of a changing Amsterdam. A well corseted 18e The dress of the century with incredibly widened hips by huge interior saddlebags contrasts with the loose pants that passed for a skirt, worn by women a century later so that they could enjoy the freedom of the newly invented bicycle.

Other exhibits document the current pandemic, such as a three-meter-wide denim tutu that enforces a 1.5m social distancing, designed by G-Star for the National Ballet. Elsewhere, Ronald van der Kamp’s clothes made from recycled factory clippings and excess inventory, hint at the impact of closed shops and canceled fashion shows.

Credit: © Hans Dukkers / Maria Austria Instituut
Model Tanja Trijbels in coat and hat by designer Max Heymans, on Leidseplein Amsterdam 1961

Famous carriers

Welcome visitors from Amsterdam house is Mayor Femke Halsema, one of six celebrities who provided them with video testimonials of special clothing or accessories. In keeping with the exhibition’s theme of freedom, she selected a rainbow necklace she wore to celebrate 20 years of same-sex marriage earlier this year.

In another video, fashion journalist and program director Aynouk Tan, buried in a foam of multicolored fabric, also talks about the openness of the capital and underlines the importance of fashion in expressing the broad spectrum of the gender identity. Amsterdam house seems to answer the call with Aziz Bekkaoui’s draped and sleeveless version of a men’s suit (2001), a men’s dress from 1890 and an outfit belonging to dragqueen Dolly Bellefleur.

In accordance with the inclusive approach of the exhibition, public participation is encouraged through a photo competition in association with Mirror Mirror Magazine soliciting outdoor shots from fashion lovers in iconic Amsterdam settings. The winning photograph will appear on street posters and in the exhibition itself.

Patta is one of the many new brands bringing fashion to the regenerated Zeedijk in Amsterdam. Photo: © Patta


Batik from Indonesia and the vivid prints of traditional Suriname dashikis (men’s shirts) and kotos (voluminous dresses) are also in the spotlight, highlighting the multicultural community that makes up the capital and the freedom to express its heritage. through the dress. But take a step further and a blouse with a forcefully added Jewish Star of David and a quilted dress sewn in a Japanese POW camp is a sobering reminder of choices once made on behalf of the Dutch people.

More positive, an evening dress created especially for the exhibition by the rising designer Karim Adduchi. Combining a Middle Eastern tapestry, a Jewish bekische mantle, and a Catholic chasable, it represents its own plural religious origin as well as the successful coming together of different faiths in a city widely known for its tolerance.

For Bloemberg, it is this “experimentation, innovation and community” that underpins the success of the fashion industry in Amsterdam, a place, she says, where “everyone knows each other”. And as the enlarged photographs in the exhibition show, this feeling is reflected in the street. “Amsterdam feels like you can be who you want to be and dress how you want,” says Bloemberg.

The exposure is at the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam from September 18, 2021 to April 3, 2022. An audio tour in English is available.

To coincide with the exhibition is Parade Club, a series of theatrical performances and readings (in Dutch) in four different nightclubs. Each location highlights a different fashion designer and the era they represent, with viewers dressing accordingly. From October 7 to January 24.

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