02 September 2014 // Florine van Rees //Rotterdam
“I WISH I WOULD HAVE THE AMBITION TO DESIGN FEWER ITEMS”
20/12/’13, Serena and I are invited to the studio of fashion designer Monique van Heist, based in Rotterdam. Monique has been our teacher at the Willem de Kooning Academie, and we still keep in contact every once in a while. Today we are talking about the future of fashion as well as Monique’s personal affection with fashion and her desire to live abroad.
We begin the conversation with our doubts about clothing stores nowadays, and the fact that the Internet is taking over. “Boutiques will never disappear,” Monique claims. “The Internet is not beatific. Because of the Internet, we are losing contact with each other. I think there will for sure come a countermovement; there will come a greater need for craftsmanship. People want to work with their hands. I do not sell my designs in a personal web shop; I do not even own a brick-and-mortar store myself. People can come and take a visit to my studio or email me. And of course there are several stores in the Netherlands that sell my clothes.
I CONSIDER MYSELF AS THE BAKER ON THE CORNER, PEOPLE WILL ALWAYS KEEP THE NEED TO HAVE THEIR BAKER ON THE CORNER. Clothing is considered to be a luxury product, however, this is not the case.”
Monique van Heist shows all of us that her personal brand is giving something intimate to the costumer. Talking about different hypes, such as brands, she points out not to go into a hype – “I am searching more for a good fit. I do wear Nike’s and can actually feel disturbed when I see others wear them ‘all of a sudden’ as well. I am looking for products that already exist for a long time. Shoes or clothing that have a history, authentic pieces. I once landed on a Swedish Internet page that sold the yellow skipper coats as we all know them. I love things like that!” We continue talking about the well-known phenomenon ‘Fashionweek’. If we have to believe Monique, Fashionweek has been milked out and will disappear. “It is all about the heat of the moment and not about what fashion means to everybody around us. I don’t think the concept of Fashionweek is important, instead I think that the process of fashion is most important to consumers. The process of how clothes are made is an important aspect that has been ignored in the idea of Fashionweek. Everything there is about style and show, you do not get to experience the clothing.
I PREFER WORKING ON AN ENDLESS COLLECTION THAT IS NOT FOCUSED ON MOMENTS. THINGS THAT I AM ALREADY MAKING FOR SIX YEARS ARE SELLING MORE THEN EVER. By repeating styles I show the world what I think is important. I am convinced that interesting things happen by focusing on yourself instead of getting inspired by magazines or fashion shows.”
Van Heist is inquisitive when it comes to fashion. She tells us that she thinks it is interesting to see how silhouettes can change just by changing minor details.
“I THINK YOU CAN SEE THE SPIRIT OF AGE IN JEANS. THEY CONTINUE TO CHANGE AS TIME AND FASHION CONTINUES TO CHANGE.”
Monique is careful when it comes to her belongings and is, as of now, working on a sustainability project. This means using her residual material for, by example, the lining of a coat. “At the moment I am doing research on what is actually necessary when it comes to clothing. I think one small rack of clothing or maybe a shelf is enough. I actually consider my collection too big. I wish I would have the ambition to design fewer items.” When it comes to her wardrobe, Monique admits wearing mostly her own designs. “I’M A BIT GROWN WITH MY COLLECTION.” She designs products that she misses in the world of fashion. During the interview she is actually wearing three of her own items. In the future she would like to delve into designing a product that is not a piece of clothing. “THE ONLY PROBLEM WILL BE: WHAT WILL I THEN WEAR MYSELF?” Monique tells us that she feels comfortable with the work she is performing right now, but thinks she needs another challenge. “What do you think about style, Monique? Who has a good fashion sense and what do you think of the style of people nowadays?” Her response to that question is: “I actually think people are not that exuberant any more. You don’t see many people on the street that stand out in the crowd because they look different. When I look back to my time at fashion school in the nineties, everybody looked so excessive – including me. Nothing too crazy, everything was possible.
“FASHION HAS BECOME CONSERVATIVE. I like people who maintain their own style and will look the same twenty years from now.”
When we ask Monique if she projects that to her own collection she admits that she sometimes makes something bizarre or exuberant. “If an item like that sells, I honestly have to laugh!”
Talking again about the stores where her items are being sold, “I sometimes miss not having direct contact with the final costumer that buys my design. I am isolated from that person, but must admit that I don’t need to work in a clothing store. I do sometimes recognize my designs on the street – that makes me feel good. I think a design is successful when you see it on the street but you don’t immediately recognize it because of the combination with the rest of the outfit. At that moment I think I reached my goal.” As a final question we ask van Heist about the city Rotterdam – why did she choose to live and work here? “As a matter of fact, that has not been a conscious decision. I originally come from the east of the country, but as there was nothing happening there, I decided to go to the west. However, I knew from the start I did not want to go to Amsterdam -there is already too much happening up there. At the end I ended up in Rotterdam. I really like it here but do feel that in the future I would like to move to a cleaner environment. I also think that I am too familiar with a lot that Rotterdam has to offer. I am ready for a new challenge! I am curious of the outcome of my work, when I would make it somewhere else, for example in France. I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO THE UNKNOWN.”