Fanclub’s main fashion-fan (former fashion editor of the Amsterdam based magazine Blvd.) took a week off from Fanclub headquarters to do the women’s autumn/winter 2001 defile-dance all over Paris. Keeping an exotic pet is one thing but we at Fanclub feel that every creature deserves to visit his or her natural habitat once in a while…

March 2001
Every journey starts with the exercise of getting there, in my case this was the Thalys from Amsterdam Central Station, destination Gare du Nord. Escaping on a Friday evening armed with loads of wine and snacks to celebrate the departure form a week’s double workload I meet my former colleague and good fan Gert Jonkers, nowadays fashion reporter for Amsterdam’s favourite newspaper Het Parool.

This introduction serves a vital point and a memorable tip to all fashion girls out there because what happened is this. Gert and I were not seated in the same carriage so we did an intensive chair dance with our drinks so we could chat up to our adventure ahead. Then one of my iron-tipped stiletto heels got stuck between some sliding door rails while transferring to yet another seat and –ah fuck- there goes my iron heel stud! My suitcase holds a single pair of emergency boxfresh K•Swiss Classic sneakers and I can not remember ever having seen a shoe repair shop in Paris so I am slightly panicking here! I can’t do a single day in Paris on one heel! And I definitely won’t wear sneakers with my Victorian style Viktor & Rolf coat (worn with heals it reaches the ground to less then an inch).

But like a regular McGiver I remember an incident where in a terrible rainstorm I lost one of my screen wipers on a highway. A pack of chewing gum saved me then so it might do the job again. And so it did. I glued the tiny piece of metal back to my Costume Nationale heel and wrapped it several times with the sticky threads of pre-chewed gum and then I let it chill for the rest of the journey to harden. It lasted the whole week in Paris, which, as we all know, involves some serious jogging!

Milou van Rossum (Volkskrant Magazine), Gert Jonkers (Het Parool) and moi

Saskia van Drimmelen is the first show on my agenda: Saturday March 10 12h00, Espace St. Martin_ the what will fast become usual ‘shit, I’m late! But then the show won’t start until an hour later’- ritual starts.
I spent the last few weekends helping Saskia to finish the collection so I was extra proud to see the end result in it’s totality strutting by on the energising airport-noise-neuro-jazz mixed and mastered by DJ Joost van Bellen. The slightly oversized stockings from a fine metallic-look synthetic fabric (which were a bitch to stitch) are a real hit this season. I saw them at Gaspard Yurkievich, and like the many super tight Prince-look pants (Viktor & Rolf, Olivier Theyskens) and, yes, leggings (Véronique Branquinho, A.F.Vandevorst) I doubt they will look good on anything more sporty build then these sky scraping models on 9 inch heels. Loved the cheap looking 80’s electric blue leather, which seems to be the main accent colour for fall 2001, and if you find it too loud, anything from aqua to petrol is an option.

Supporting your local designers can prove stressful if they show on the same day. I had to hop by my friend’s place to change from my Saskia van Drimmelen outfit into my dramatic Viktor & Rolf coat again. Which caused my arrival upon the spot to be sort of critically late. (I do this for a hobby!) But armed with a bulky present for Rolf I managed to storm the anxiously pushing crowd like a gasping and glowing Jane Eyre entering the venue in seconds excusing myself: ‘sorry, excusez moi, gommenasai, backstage delivery!’. Afterwards I heard that they closed the doors on some real hotshot French fashion press shortly after I barged in, which resulted in a screaming free-fight, out there in the cold rain, on elegant Rue de Rivoli. Now THAT I would have loved to see! But not in stead of Viktor & Rolf’s Black Hole show. Which was simply larger than fashion. More like an all embracing super cliché. It was the grand silhouette line up of our collective fashion memory. It was a ‘best of’ Viktor & Rolf collection that simply made me want to marry a rich man, I mean, all the clothes made me groan with greed (can I at least put in an order for the black wool and leather college shawl?). It was a defilé that made you forget all other defiles… for the moment.

Viktor and Rolf backstage

Mario Testino and Gert Jonkers rubbing shoulders backstage at Viktor and Rolf

Black is so back (Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garçons, Alexandre Herchcovitch, Wendy & Jim, Véronique Branquinho, Yves Saint Laurent, A.F.Vandevorst…), it’s a rich pitch black, shiny and lacy and tacky and Catholic, monastic, reckless raven black. The fashion crowd can now truly indulge in it without looking like a lazy cliché (‘I am very serious about fashion’) as they did for so many years. This is prescription black, Big Brother’s orders, retrograde, wrap up black. It’s like a mirror. Looking back at you and thinking, all is safe now, I know that person. And trendwatch-wise (easy trick), we are heading head on towards a major world-wide recession, if only an emotional one! So why not dress for the occasion?

Talk about recession, the Yohji Yamamoto defile later that night, all the way up in the 19th arrondisement, turned out to be a real test even for the hardest of the defile marathon die-hards! After waiting for more than an hour, our empty stomachs began to rumble and moan and I remember having a discussion whether one would chose food over a Yamamoto show. I wouldn’t. But then the models finally appeared, parading calmly in a killing silence only to be disturbed by the ever more loudmouthed platoon of catwalk photographers. All black, sporty, adidas stripes everywhere, ingredients for frowning argument added up fast. Not for me though, loved it! Yamamoto’s clothes you just want to wear for the rest of your life. They make you forget about fantastic imagery and all that media gloss. On the other hand, the limited edition numbered book Yohji just published for his 20th anniversary in the profession, covering all photography of his clothes over the past 5 years, is a document worthy of a special place on your fashion meditation altar. True that!
Yamamoto… love him or leave him alone! There is plenty of other stuff to choose from.

Like Jeremy Scott, on the other end of the rainbow from statement makers like Viktor & Rolf, this guy speaks to us in comics! His show was an entertainment circus, inspired by American’s loudest, most inflated sense of taste. Putting himself on a cloud with angels like his petit muse Devon, throwing chocolate wealth at the lower stars (us), who stormed the stage even before the show ended to collect memorabilia from this camp carnival. It’s okay for clothes to be nothing more than fuck-it-fun but camp will never outgrow its hysterical little crowd. So if this is the way to impress Lagerfeld, I don’t know. Imagine Scott at Chanel!? Poor Coco!
Let me make a suggestion.

Chanel should be in the hands of a real woman’s designer like Veronique Branquinho! I know this is a statement I will have to argue about with a lot of peeps out there but I don’t care! Veronique, I am sure, could be a very good little niece of Coco! She could bring Chanel back to simply chic sobriety, post pop femininity, moody arrogance (which looks great on self-conscious women and men love it! They’re masochists anyway!) and the modern luxurious style Chanel should be about. (True luxury should look understated, remember Hermes, god of trade and travellers, god of fertility, music, dreams & finding treasures…my kind of guy!) Veronique knows our generation and knows how to put it in the present in a surprisingly un-retro way. Her clothes have soul as well as vision, without being obtrusive. Put that thought in the house of Chanel and well….See my point? Because then I could finally wear Chanel, which is impossible now! No matter how wonderful the clothes can be, the image of these new economy career tarts wagging their horny little gold-clad tails on the latest Daft Punk hit (true, it was a feast! But was it Coco?). And you surely don’t believe they can actually ski now do you?

Now I said that, this was probably the last Chanel show I ever got in…because that’s how it works in life. If you’re not nice you don’t get your cookie. Well, maybe they will let me do the sneaky one more time. It is so easy to just walk into a fashion show… you need a few good friends in the crowd to cover you from all sides (you know who you are), you have to dress seriously professionally fashion-bitchy (not like a clown), wear sunglasses, act busy with mobile phones and cigarettes or something consumable (no time for lunch ladies!) while searching your designer bag for the damn ticket. The next thing you know, you’re in! Don’t worry about your reputation because nobody cares! Just breathe ‘yes it’s my job darling, do you think I actually like to be treated like a mad cow up for death row if I didn’t have to be here?’ and non of those cute suited security boys dare mess with your temper. C’est simple.

The Dutch fashion Avant-garde (Hair stylist Taco Stuiver, top-stylist Elle Verhagen, with assistant Berber de Jong, best-dressed stylist Maarten Spruyt, a PRessing representative and Gert Jonkers) at Gaspard Yurkievich

Of course I did have some real invitations because I used to be an honest, hardworking down to earth fashion editor not so long ago, with an extra big heart for the upcoming fashion garde including the Dutch ones (I admit being a bit chauvinistic). Some press agencies are smart as well as sweet to figure you deserve to be there even though you are ‘freelancing’ so to speak. Why leave one tiny little fashion fan in the cold? So I did not have to do the nasty at the likes of Alexandre Herchcovitch (nominated ‘best pink’!), Gaspard Yurkievich (nominated ‘best shoes’!), Thimister (nominated ‘best handbag’!), Olivier Theyskens (nominated ‘best volumes’), Alexandre Matthieu (nominated ‘best bows’), Christophe Lemaire (nominated ‘most comfortable show’, in a cinema!) and another favourite; Wendy & Jim. Now these guys from Austria were supposed to be panic-stricken more than anybody that week, because a big bag of their essential experimental showpieces got lost on the plane to Paris! In stead I caught them hanging around fanclubbing at Branquinho, Bernhard Willhelm, Margiela… being charming and calm as ever. Their show did not really suffer from the loss either. The Kraftwerk meets Adam Ant-collection was on point enough to please and surprise the stylists, and definitely more sellable then expected. Well done, however, I still want to see those lost pieces so I invited them over for a presentation at Fanclub in Amsterdam. (Check our agenda!)

Robb Young (the new fashion editor of Composite), Gert Jonkers, Jim (of Wendy & Jim), Michaël Dürr (photographer) and Helga (=Wendy)

So German speaking people have a way to keep their cool. Bless definitely does so, while smoothing into a full and ever so wearable fashion collection. No accessories, just the clothes, imagine that move! The presentation was set up in a nice apartment in the 11th arrondisement, where models (friends) ate nice smelling food in different rooms basically, while we watched them from the hallway. A reality peepshow, the thing to these days. I distinguished basic sweater shapes in many fine fabrics from lace to silk chiffon, sometimes with a body stocking in heavy knitted fabric underneath, simple cool-cat trousers, pleated, flat front, snow bleached Levi’s adaptations, understated as Bless can be, these people looked like my friends exactly! I just wish my friends could really afford to wear Bless!

Dutch designers are not cool, they are concentrated… on what you wonder? Well, on deserving a place in the fashion universe maybe? They do, but they are lonely dreamers in their flat and rainy country. No ambience for this kind of industry. No feedback, no system, no fan-mentality, no vibes. So they work here, live here, but in their heads they are ‘there’. To uphold this twisted reality, they must concentrate. And they must make unmistakable statements. Take Oscar Suleyman for example, long booed at as the copycats of Viktor & Rolf (un-arguably profiting from their presence) they have grown into their own and convinced the public with a hyper sleek fashion mistress collection with luxurious materials like pin stripe shaved marine blue fur. Appealing to a very conservative chic, projected on the 16 year-old beauty fetish, it looked manga almost. All women green with envy, which is one road to success in fashion, guaranteed!

Niels Klavers stayed true to his very own turf; living clothes’ shapes freeze framed in their various transformation stages. This quantum space for design concept makes for very monumental wear. Impressive, inspiring. But a very luxurious statement for the wearer. Wearing a concept is not for everybody but it sure gives air to a fashion world kissing it’s own ass in a glamorous wet dream all the time.

Mo with Niels Klavers and co-designer Astrid van Engelen

Like Comme des Garçons is known to do, offer a concept to wear, but then Comme des Garçons is an institution in the fashion world. Nobody dares disagree that Comme is the barometer for good taste if you know your art and architecture that is. (Again, not for the masses) I used to think so to but this fall winter show changed my unconditional love into quite a conditional one. Kawakubo is still up there on my fan-list but I think I will skip this collection for my private collection. I truly don’t feel like flowery carpets fused with heavy tweeds and Victoria’s Secret leftovers in a bulky suit with vintage-Gaultier type corset structures and armour like breast accents. I don’t like fusion anymore period! I don’t like to show my bare bottoms either, Holland is to cold and the men here are to Neanderthal for that kind of ero-zones. Lace slip dresses I tend to wear under my clothes nowadays, and cheap porno outfits have never been my fetish either. The shoes were great, that remains indisputable. And the Comme des Garçons kidney-belt will be a hit for sure. Chanel had the same thing but the Comme is, like I said, a subtler signal. But I am not shopping… yet.

Motor belts over big coats I like. It’s a war out there. Remember that song ‘I’m every woman’? Well, that’s what we have to be so better dress to protect and serve. Protect and pre-serve the innocence and beauty of that girl underneath like the samurai cherishes the cherry blossom. Think bigger extremes, the whole world does. (Or become a stylish nun and wear A.F.Vandevorst!)

Army surplus, combat boots, ninja gear, that’s what I saw at Yamamoto as well as Thimister, Bernhard Willhelm and even Margiela. Now Bernhard Willhelm left such an impression on me that he deserves his own chapter but then I want to talk to this young gentleman. So help me pray for an interview soon!

Martin Margiela is one of my all time heroes and still undisputed! The only one now I think of it! His show in the dungeons under the Alexandre Bridge was set up nicely with little private salon-like niches so everybody could sit front row, sipping wine. Glitter-curtains gave some ‘act’ to the entrance of the models that were guided through the dark intervals by assistants in white laboratory coats. Behind each curtain, an African drummer provided the heartbeats to the experience. And then the clothes…. On those beautiful strong women! The split toe boots have gone up to the thighs, worn over khakis or jeans, with the nylons over all of that. Is she confused or just cold? Big leather motor jackets, Rock ’n Roll t-shirts, permanent press crumpled pieces, oversized Charleston fringe dresses, jackets with an extra layer of fabric glued over the pockets, buttons and lapels, a trenchcoat disguised as a blanket, re-assembled vintage satin house coats, this is the ultimate hide out fashion! Guaranteed to make you feel safe and secure, knowing how beautiful and special you are you don’t need clothes to convince anyone they wish they new you-kind of cool. Feel good is look good stuff. That’s what clothes should be anyway. But if you depend on what looks good to make you feel good you’re not there, not in Margiela’s world. And actually, not in the world of true style period! Fashion, love it, want it, do it, but don’t ever need it!