At the age of five, Wiepke was taught by her father how to operate a sewing machine. Ever since then, Wiepke has been into making clothes – first for her dolls and then later for herself. Following a visit to the fashion department at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague, aged twelve, Wiepke knew then she wanted to be ‘a fashion designer’.
Who is It-Dutchie Wiepke Wolfsbergen?
A young Dutch high school student of only 17 years old, Wiepke still lives at home with her parents in The Hague, Netherlands. Wiepke is taking classes at the School for Young Talent which has specialized in 2D-art and 3D-art, concept, photography, art classes. Her exam will be at level gymnasium ancient Greek is one of the subjects, Wiepke is a very smart and eager pupil.
Wiepke participated ‘De Kunstbende’, a Dutch contest for young people aged between 13-18. The categories are Fashion, Art, Theatre, Dance, DJ, Spoken Word, Film and Music. Wiepke entered her fashion collection “Strong Woman” and consequently won the main prize – which was showing her collection at Amsterdam Fashion Week 2018 (AFW2018). The inspiration behind Wiepke’s “Strong Woman” collection was the style, colors and jewelry of the American fashion icon Iris Apfel.
Amsterdam Fashion Week 2018
For over one year, Wiepke has been working hard to creating and manufacture her concept collection. One of her main inspiration points are glass bottles, and she finds herself fascinated by the shapes of these bottles. All bottles have labels or tags, these describe the contents of the bottles. This description is not always correct. That is also the case with labels of sexuality and gender.
Wiepke was the youngest fashion talent to show her collection at AFW18. ‘Original’, ‘Beautiful colors’, ‘So young and then already such a clear statement’. These are just a few of the enthusiastic reactions Wiepke has received. Fashion Week visitors were impressed by the diversity, colors and the statement in her collection.
Description of Wiepke’s work
Wiepke’s style is colorful, the basis of the collection is the shape -inspired by bottles- and the line of the garments. In Wiepke’s work, the conventional boundaries between man and woman fade away, Wiepke doesn’t try to create specifically male or female clothing. This unique way of designing creates a tension and sense of excitement in the different outfits.
Wiepke has either painted all the fabrics herself or printed the fabrics with prints of her own design. One of the techniques she uses, to show the wide use of color in her collection, is Ebru – an ancient Turkish art form. The paint is applied in a bin/container filled with gum-water. Next, patterns are drawn in, after which this pattern is transferred to the fabric. Almost everything has been hand-made by Wiepke, even the accessories, such as the beer-bottle shaped hats, shoes and socks.
Sneak peek backstage
Wiepke still lives with her parents, her biggest supporters, and has carried out much of the production from the family home. Can you imagine? During the last three weeks before AFW2018, the living-room more closely resembled a sewing-workshop. Clothing hung on closets, layers of fabric draped on chairs and needles strewn all over the floor. Wiepke has worked day and night to finish this collection, and it was worth it.
Wiepke devised a clever and cheap solution for Ebru-painting large pieces of fabric at once. She bought a swimming pool frame at 2.60 x 2.00 meters. After raising the bottom, so it was only 25cm deep, Wiepke was able to produce her Ebru-paintings in this pool. Pictures
Gender and sexuality
There are people who identify (themselves) with a label that doesn’t completely suit them if you look at the exact description of these labels. This is also the case with the labels of gender and sexuality. In this case Wiepke means, for example, lesbian or transgender.
Gender and sexuality are often seen as bonded together, as one and the same. Wiepke argues that they are two different things and separate aspects of one’s identity. Of course, they are related to each other – but it is not, for example, that if you are a transgender you’re automatically gay – you can also be straight. Wiepke’s answer to gender and sexuality in her collection are the flags: she decided to re-design the flags. Using the colors of the original flags, in the new flags she made the colors partially overlap, the colors are connected. Wiepke shows that everything collapses, that tags and labels cannot be explained unambiguously. She has created these new flags as prints for her collection. Each outfit consists of two layers to represent that everyone has a gender as well as sexuality.
After the show, prominent members of the LGBT community made inquiries about the possibility of wearing one of the outfits during an important event. More to come…
First I want to graduate this school year, I also hope to make much more beautiful clothes. In ten years’ time, I hope to have my own fashion-label and my own company with a store annex café where I can sell my clothes. The customers will be not afraid to wear colors and do not think in tags, boxes or labels. Then I’m satisfied, and I have achieved my goal – Wiepke Wolfsbergen
Photographer: Maarten Delobel
You can find more about Wiepke here.