17 July 2017 // Puck Gall //Amsterdam
Clothing will always be an interesting topic to me, everyone has a different relationship with their clothing and especially this human aspect of clothing fascinates me immensely. How we relate to our wardrobe tells a lot about who we are in my opinion. It is not necessarily about how extreme to dress or how little you care. There is often an emotional bond with pieces that you have for a long time or that just really suit your personality.
Mathilde was the wife of the Dutch painter Carel Willink. She met him when she was only 21 years old and he already 60 but fell in love and married him. Carel painted hyper realistic paintings also known as magical realism because his pictures where always quite dreamy and surrealistic. Mathilde was his muse because she a magical creature to see, with her length of 1,90 and extravagant outfits she became a fashion icon. Especially when she met the fashion designer Fong Leng, the two became good friends and in a short amount of time almost all of Mathilde her wardrobe was filled with creations of Fong Leng.
It is tricky to say that is was still clothing as the dresses look more like art pieces brought to life by the exotic Mathilde. She becomes a socialite in Amsterdam and a celebrity in all of the Netherlands. Although she always wants to have the full attention she also stays a mystery up to her death.
Her dresses are her every thing and the need to be so extrovert feels a bit psychotic. She talks about her fear of being alone and after her divorce from Carel she ends up alone in an apartment in Amsterdam with nothing except her antique four poster bed, a lot of mirrors and her clothing. It feels like the clothes have become her prison as if she only exist because of them.
Mathilde died 2 years later in 1977 she was shot in the head and lied naked on her bed. According to the police it must have been suicide but her friends highly doubt this.
So dear Mathilde lived life like a magical mystery and died in the same manner. I don’t know if her dresses made her happy but I am sure that she enjoyed all of them. She is a celebration of the freedom to look different and to provoke others who just don’t dare to stand out.
This summer Kasteel Ruurlo opened a new exhibition dedicated to the work of Carel Willink. In the exhibition are also dresses shown of Fong Leng from Mathilde. And there is even an Mathilde muse event started, to celebrate the phenomenon of Mathilde they have started a contest. You have to dress up in the style of Mathilde and send your photo to the museum. If you look good enough you are invited to an extravagant evening in the castle. So for all you Mathildes out there I say we make a little effort and channel our inner superstar.