Who am I?
Fashion dream since childhood.
Grandmother made her own wedding dress.
Fisherman grandfather worked with filaments.
Down left: grandmother working in Hospitality @ La Barceloneta, Barcelona 1953.
Down middle left: grandfather during the obligatory military service, Barcelona 1953.
Down middle right: lil Jeffrey posing at grandparents house, Arnhem - Kodak 1992.
Down right: Jef Montes 2023, photo-booth Central Station Arnhem.
Up right: Salobreña 2022 - Canon.
Up left: Salobreña 2022 - Canon.
Update 36: 25-08-2023
During the production of the Michelangelo designs Damien Semerdjian asked me to come and check the 2-color variations. The idea behind the multiple contrasting color designs are inspired by candy factory production process. I love it when the liquid oily pigments are incorporated into the fudge textures. During the knitting process we switch colors throughout an organic gradient effect. This way of working also unravels the complex movement of our design, because each line starts from straight and flows into several organic shapes. It's so interesting to see how the use of color emphasizes the textile blueprint.
Damien really shows commitment when he develops our knitting designs. He stands by the machine and makes sure that no flaws are risked. He manually stops the machine and adjust the flaw. To produce a single Michelangelo dress takes 8 hours to produce. Damien recommended me that it would be better to separate parts of the dress and sew together. This way would be easier to prevent flaws, because an entire dress is a large piece of fabric. However, if we do this it would eliminate the entire idea behind my designer intention of this design. We will try and continue to produce the dresses the way that I envisioned it, but in the future I would need to adapt into another way of working. Maybe I could design a smaller dress for example. Or to work with 2 seamlessly produced techniques, instead of 3. I will look into these new ideas after this current project is complete.
It's always nice to look at contemporary art when I create sculptural knitwear. After my meeting with Damien I went to see Museum De Pont in Tilburg. Entering the exposition space I saw an installation by artist Raphaela Vogel.
Male dominance - in both the art world and society. Quote: ''Is this Vogel's way of announcing the end of the era of male dominance?'' Vogel elicits questions without providing answers. My personal view on this matter is that I hope that we don't create a future where we would go from one extreme into another extreme.
The ritual with doll from Marlene Dumas reflects social codes. There is no single essence, no single truth. Are we looking at a group of girls or are we witnessing some sinister event? The interesting aspect about art is that it's open for personal interpretation. This work of art reminds me of the holy communion pictures of my mom. She was holding a baby doll, but was somehow forced to take this picture for the family photo album. She was not looking happy at all.
The work Vampire of Marien Schouten reminds me of the knitted swirly forms from Damien Semerdjian. At the same time I get nostalgic carnaval feelings from reading the title. It creates an interesting parallel of multiple memories and interpretations.
Big spirits by Thomas Schütte reminds me of the Michelin dolls that I played with as a kid. The reflections on their surface make them seem without mass, empty.
Vertigo by Anish Kapoor creates an interesting dialogue with its viewer. The mirrored effect fragments reality into an abstract orb form.
Raphaela Vogel - 2022 ability and necessity, polyurethan elastomer, steel, brass, anatomical model and cart. - 2022 Metabolic Kilobytes, metal polyurethane elastomer and spherical speaker.
Marlene Dumas - 1992 ritual with doll, oil on canvas. - 1993 Swartschorskop, oil on canvas.
Thomas Schütte - 1954 big spirits, polished aluminum.
Marien Schouten - 1985 Vampire, oil and charcoal on canvas.
Anish Kapoor - 2008 Vertigo, stainless steel.
Update 35: 21-08-2023
I love the city trips with my mom and grandmother. This time we went to Hoorn, an old fisherman town in the north of the Netherlands. We spend our nights at the prison hotel, which was an interesting experience. The former prison was build in the 17th century, as an extension of the harbor. At the harbor I found some small lifeboats, which my grandmother does not like, because it's the constant reminder of my cousins suicide during corona. He was found in a lifeboat at the city park behind my grandmothers house. During this grieving period it's good to support each other and do nice things. We went to the fair to have some fun and I went to my favorite attraction, the haunted mansion. In front of the construction there was a box filled with water. Below the bubbles I saw a skeleton, which made me feel very empty deep inside. However, the fireworks at night blasted many colors filled with unforgettable magic. Life can be spiritual at times. Sometimes I wonder, what is the universe trying to tell me? Well, either way, I just go with the flow.
Update 34: 04-08-2023
Project Search For Fashion is successfully completed. In the end of the project the garment creation process is based on: biodegradable weft and warp materials, exclusively produced textile design, sustainable dyeing process, zero waste pattern development and signature garment production. The current status of the technological readiness level is within TRL 5, which means fashion design prototype validation. As a creative director I am confident that the fashion design has the potential to reach TRL 7, full scale prototype in commercial conditions. In order to reach TRL 7 additional research and development is required to upgrade the textile design. More work is needed to reach the level of quality that I am aiming for as a creative director. Most of the current final garment prototypes were given as a personal thank you to the S4F collaborative partners. I am looking forward to continue my search for fashion journey.
Update 33: 26-07-2023
Recently I visited Museum Arnhem and exposition ''Between Borders''. It was interesting to see that previous Adaptive Skins model Sarjon was connected to this specific exposition. It's amazing to see people that are fighting to build a new life end up having an amazing platform for themselves. I collaborated with Sarjon during the foundation of Studio Adaptive Skins in 2018. The concept of the campaign was inspired by Sarjon's Syrian background, and how they were labeled and judged everywhere they tried to step forward. Sarjon's escape from the war brought them as a refugee to the Netherlands. They studied at ArtEZ fine art and graduated in 2022. Sarjon is currently established as an multidisciplinary artist. In the exposition Between Borders you can see quotes from Sarjon, but also from the major of Arnhem. It's a deep and insightful exposition, especially since I can emotionally relate to the theme.
My grandparents came to the Netherlands during the industrialization. I always get the shivers down my spine when my grandmother starts talking again about moments of poverty and how she used to eat the banana peels from the floor. Crossing borders and looking for a new life is extremely challenging! Even after more than 50 years it is still difficult for my grandparents to speak Dutch in a proper manner. It's difficult to feel accepted when people around you communicate with prejudice. I remember my grandparents told me that people in the Netherlands used to say that they were too dramatic, too expressive, crazy and overly emotional! In Dutch there is a say: ''doe maar normaal, dan doe je al gek genoeg'', which means that please act normal, because when you act normal you already look crazy enough! This say has always irritated me a lot personally! As a multiracial person I must admit that growing up in the Netherlands has never been easy for me. The Netherlands is a pretty liberal country, but there is still a lot racism and discrimination in daily life. Verbal and physical attacks that I unfortunately experience as a gay person. Normally nature helps me to find peace and silence within myself. I love hiking on mountains, but the Netherlands unfortunately is quite flat... For several reasons I have always felt that ''Do I belong'' vibe deep inside. But that sentiment has shifted during the moment when I moved my studio to Bilbao in 2023. I feel more alive when I am surrounded by Spanish mountains. For some unexplainable reason I just feel that Spain just naturally triggers positivity within my spirit. In the exposition Between Borders there was a quote written on the wall ''als je alles achterlaat'', which means when you leave everything behind. Within that exposition area there were some suitcases exhibited, and I felt that these objects strongly resonated with me. I really want to pack my bags and leave Arnhem next year.
Update 32: 16-07-2023
The process with Care Application was completed by dye processing several meters of Joyper woven materials. The backside of the fabric is black and the front side has a silver shine. The bio-cotton yarn absorbs the black dyestuff through the nebulisation technology ECOFinish® engineered to save resources such as water and energy. The PLA multi-filaments do not absorb the black pigment and this was intentionally decided, because I wanted to create the contrast between front and backside of the woven fabric. I am very happy with the final result of the collaboration with Care Applications. Care Applications attended at the ITMA fair in Milan, where the S4F final prototype was showcased at the fair stand. The textile twill design from Joyper in collaboration with Care Applications has the potential to currently sell as a commercial product. I feel confident to launch this product via industrial application scale. The current level of the twill textile design is TRL 7, full scale prototype in commercial conditions. The coming months I will review the possibility to see if we can continue to arrange the intellectual property rights for the woven PLA twill design. It was not what I initially intent to reach, but with an open mind I saw that launching my own textile product could also be of high potential.
Update 31: 06-07-2023
Recently a curator asked me if my newest 3D knitting collection is inspired by Michelangelo's sculpture ''David''. The 3D haute couture design is constructed in a sculptural manner, but is not directly inspired by the famous Italian artist. Michelangelo is inspired by my cousins favorite ninja turtle, that wears the color ''orange''. We both had the exact same ninja turtle t-shirt when we were kids. I never cared about that t-shirt until now, because it has become the initial inspiration source for project Michelangelo. The development to create this piece was quite deep for me, also because of the mourning process that I experienced during that moment in time. Bryan-Gabriel was named after our grandfather. We both grew up without a father figure, and our grandparents provided all the love and balance that we needed back in the days. We experienced a lot together and he was like a brother to me. Bryan unfortunately committed suicide during the corona pandemic. He suffered from schizophrenia and hard drugs used to be his temporary escape. I respect his choice, but it was quite a traumatic experience for me to be honest. I like to think that his cheerful spirit and energy are intertwined throughout the complex and playful 3D knitting structures. The only artist that is conceptually connected via Michelangelo is the famous French artist ''Dubuffet''. Works like for example ''Mondanite'' are an important inspiration for my work, because it reminds me of what I personally think Schizophrenia could feel and look like within in painting. Via Michelangelo I want to create awareness around mental illness and drugs addiction. Bryan had a lot of dreams and goals in his life, his spirit was beautiful and fierce. I miss him dearly.
Update 30: 16-06-2023
During project S4F I was able to finish the more years project of creating my signature shoes. The shoes were inspired by my own shoes that I wore when I was a teenager! I worked several side jobs to be able to get myself the denim collection of Jean Paul Gaultier. I wore that outfit pared with D&G boots that I bought in Barcelona. Those leather boots had the most amazing steel noses. I used those actual boots as an inspiration to create my study collection during the academy of arts in 2011. However, the 3D printed Marinero shoes were created in collaboration with Shapeways and Chris van den Elzen. The heel of the shoes are inspired by the sail patterns that my grandfather used for his miniature sailboats.
The first prototype was seen during my debut in Paris 2017. In 2019 the shoes had an upgrade with steel noses, that were created by 3D print service Arnhem and K3D metal print Terborg. In 2022 the shoes had the final quality check up and adjustment. René van den Berg and Ivo Schrama collaborated in order to upgrade the surface of the shoes, to make sole of the shoes stronger. Several models walked in the shoes to check if the steel noses did not hit the floor. The platform of the shoes are slightly raised in order to prevent this from happening. The ankle straps have been adjusted and replaced. I am happy with the final result of the shoes. At this stage I can officially confirm that the Marinero shoes are finished and ready to be used during my future catwalk presentations.
Update 29: 13-06-2023
Boats, windmills, airplanes, bedframes, mirrors and tables. Just to name a few examples of the many objects that my grandfather made during his lifetime. I have joyfull memories of my wooden airplane. My grandfather used to make toys for me, and I still am in love with them today. One of my forever favorite objects is the ship that my grandfather made with his brother Antonio. I never met the brother of my grandfather. He unfortunately died at young age due to neglected pneumonia. However, it's special to feel the creative energy of Antonio in this specific ship.
Some years ago my grandfather restored the ship that he made with his brother. The ship is inspired by the Santa Maria from Christoffel Columbus. The wood that was used for this ship comes from old wooden lucifer boxes that Antonio used to collect. My grandfather and I had several conversations when he was cleaning the miniature Santa Maria. We did not talk so much about deep things in general, but when he was working on his projects he always seemed to open up a little bit more. He told me that sometimes my facial expressions reminded me of his brother. This made me feel very special, because I have great respect for the tangible things that my grand-uncle left behind. I can tell by looking at this ship that he was very talented. After cleaning the ship my grandfather added the letter A on the back sail. During the talks we also sometimes looked at old pictures. He showed me a monochrome picture of his brother looking over his shoulder during a catholic baptism. He became emotional, because he missed his brother a lot. I will never forget this moment and how it made me feel. It is clear to me that they used to have a very caring and loving relationship. I love that they made that ship together and that it's still in perfect condition.
My grandfather used to work a lot with wood, but during his lifetime he experimented working with new materials. The beauty of it all is because it's not just purely based on his curiosity for the material itself, but rather the combination with life experience that inspired him to work with new materials. His way of working always had a relationship with tradition and life experiences. For example: in the 70's my grandparents migrated from Spain to the Netherlands. My grandfather started working at the steel factory named Stork in Hengelo. He upgraded his craftsmanship using steel. He really loved experimenting with this new type of material. Numerous furniture in my grandparents house were made by his hand. He even made my childhood bed, that had beautifully shaped horses within the arches of the bed frames. Craftsmanship was like meditation for my grandfather. It always felt very calming to see him work on his incredible pieces.
Update 28: 03-06-2023
- crochet tablecloth by my great grandmother Dolores Trujillo Montes, 1980 (Wool)
Update 27: 31-05-2023
- illustration by my grandfather Gabriel Montes, 1970 (HB pencil)
Update 26: 22-05-2023
Luckily I found this picture underneath in the house of my grandparents. For many years it was lost and I still remembered it. The picture never really had a special meaning to me until now. During my journey towards wanting to start a life in Spain I started thinking again about this picture, showing both my grandparents driving a motorcycle in Barcelona during the mid 50's. To me personally this picture showcases their passion for adventure and traveling. I keep it as an inspiration for myself, to remember that my grandparents were able to accomplish such beautiful things for themselves, even during the darkest of times they kept moving forward. I really admire that strength and determination. I spoke to my grandmother about this picture and she said the picture was taken right in front of the flat where the mother of my grandfather used to live. During that era my grandmother was happy to have found a job in Barcelona. She worked at a lighting company where she sorted lighting tubes. On the picture below she bought her outfit from her first paycheck. She said it was a beautiful white blouse and skirt. The shoes were her favorite, black sandals with small heels. My grandparents used to travel from Barcelona towards La Costa Brava on the motorcycle. Unfortunately the motorcycle of my grandfather was stolen in Albuñol. Ever since they only had cars. The Citroën XM of my grandfather used to be my favorite car as a child. However, we still have the nostalgic memories and luckily this picture was found again. Having pictures of joyful memories are very important, especially for my grandfather who is currently suffering from Alzheimer. Pictures can create moments of clarity when dealing with Alzheimer. Also childhood music works very uplifting and brings back memories.
Update 25: 17-05-2023
During the last online conference call of project Search For Fashion I presented my project to the entire consortium. During the digital meeting Rut Turró, founder of MovingMood and inclusive fashion expert, mentioned that she is working on EU label policy and that the info of my label was not entirely correct to EU standards. I was thankful to her about informing me that it would be a good step to update my labels. I informed my labels producer and explained them the situation. They were so kind to give me a super discount on my adjustment production of the new labels. This was an amazing chance to also change the ironing method, because OneRoomOffice mentioned that the PLA material is sensitive to the iron. Also, with all materials there is a risk of ironing, because burn stains can always occur on each type of material! PLA multi filament has a melting point starting from 160 degrees, so there is no real problem here, but to just be sure I adjusted the washing label to better only use garment steamer. This method seems to work best to keep the quality of my fashion design the most beautiful. I believe this is the most important method to inform the consumer, to use the best fabric care option in order to have a long lasting beautiful and durable product.
Update 24: 01-05-2023
Recent press release of the European Parliament confirms an agreement with the environment committee, and believes that measures should be taken to ensure that textiles are produced in a circular, sustainable and socially fair manner. Textiles sold within the European Union should be more durable and easier to reuse. In addition, textiles must be easier to repair and recycle, largely made from recycled fibers and free of hazardous substances. Members of the EU emphasize that textiles must be produced with respect for human, social and labor rights, the environment and animal welfare throughout the supply chain. The environment committee calls on the European Commission and the EU countries to take measures that say goodbye to fast fashion. In the request, the committee defines fast fashion as "a large amount of lower quality clothing for a low price". To move away from fast fashion, the committee believes that consumers should be better informed to help them make responsible and sustainable choices. It is therefore proposing a “digital product passport” that the committee believes should be added to the forthcoming revision of the Ecodesign Regulation. MEPs also want greenhouse gas emissions from the textile industry to be reduced. To achieve this, production processes must become less energy and water intensive, the use and release of harmful substances must be avoided and the material and consumption footprint must be reduced.
''People and our planet are more important than the profits of the textile industry. The disasters that have occurred in the past like the collapse of the Rana Plaza, the growing landfills in Ghana and Nepal, polluted water and microplastics in our oceans show what happens when this principle is not followed. We have long enough waited - it's time for a change.”
Update 23: 29-04-2023
The final prototype of project Search For Fashion was made at the studio of OneRoomOffice in Arnhem. We arranged a final fitting with my lovely friend and model Juul. Final adjustments have been written down and in May a series of size adaptations will be produced at OneRoomOffice. I am happy with the end result of the final prototype. The dress looks fresh and has a light silver shine. Besides the dress we also have a skirt and top to add to the capsule collection of Arca Sphere. Sizes are: S - M - L. The coming months I will also continue to work on the business model via S4F platform. I am looking into the possibility to offer my textile and fashion collection commercially. Two different lines of products via my new label Arca Sphere.
Update 22: 28-04-2023
My grandparents moved from Spain to the Netherlands during the 70's. It's scary when you need to leave the country that you have always loved. The seaside, the mountains, the Mediterranean smells, the food, the culture, etc. All of that they left behind! Poverty and despair causes impactful side effects to an individuals mind, especially in a crisis situation people become very active and adventurous. This side of crisis always triggered my curiosity senses. What can drive a person to make such drastic changes? I remember looking at the wedding picture of my grandparents when I was a little boy. I always had questions about what was the story behind that picture? Going back to Spain with the car each and single year really showed me a lot of extreme contrasts between Dutch and Spanish culture. I always cried leaving Spain behind as a child driving back to the Netherlands. I still have this feeling deep inside of me up to this day.
In my life time I could have never imagined that such a thing would also happen to me in the future. I always wanted to go back to Spain as a child, but as an adult this idea shifted, because I always hear around me that the Netherlands is such a better country economically. And also, I can not handle change that well... But even so, the unimaginable has happened to me! I am moving my studio office to Spain in 2023. This is an amazing new chance and I love it! However, several situations have triggered me to move abroad. It has been a rocky road!
Crisis opens new doors!
November 2022 the organization that rents units to artists said that our building was bought to have a new purpose. Building B46 had 80 entrepreneurs that were renting units via Slak Ateliers Arnhem. All the entrepreneurs needed to move out as soon as possible. A group of artists and designers went into protest, mostly because it was a fact that the building would still be empty for the next coming 2 years. 90% moved out in December 2022. Some found another studio within the area and some started working from their home office. However, a group of 8 individuals received an offer to stay in the building for the coming 2 years. They needed to pass a strict procedure involving documents and the possibility to pay more rent. So, this meant that a specific selected group could stay in B46 while most people were moving out from building. Many questions were asked and no clear answer was given by the authorities. This kind of situation sometimes unfortunately creates a lot of tension between individuals. People start to call each other names and revengefully steal each other's stuff. That's never a good environment to be involved with! Official warnings have been issued and police reports have been filed.
Until April 2023 the 8 individuals had their stuff stocked inside building B46. No news! Mid April we received a phone call from our partner Slak Ateliers Arnhem that the negotiations did not work out and that they left the conversation with the new owner. We had the possibility to move out or try to negotiate with the new owner ''City Developers''. Slak Ateliers is an organization that is the spokesperson for the artists. In my opinion Slak Ateliers needs to be here to protect our belongings and speak for us as a group. The problem with direct contact via artist and real estate owner is that there is a big chance for friend politics, and I really do not like this kind of risk. The moment I tried to have direct contact with City Developers I already saw some big problems happening. I found out that they opened all the entrances of the building, including our studio units. I tried to contact City Developers about this issue, but they did not care about if my stuff was protected or not. They told me that if I did not like their way of working I could take my stuff and move it into my living room as soon as possible. So, I learned in life when people make you feel that way it is best to take charge and fix things my way. Especially to dance towards the people that you know and feel they really care about you.
Luckily I informed my team BIAAF in Bilbao about this issue many months ago. All I had to do was push the emergency button and everything was fixed! I had my back up plan and I used it within the last minute. I was able to arrange logistic process and move all my stuff to Bilbao end of April 2023. Many cuddles and love was given to Rocio and Charo from BIAAF. They helped me to arrange a space for all my studio stuff in Bilbao. And just like that, a new chance and door has opened for me. I am very thankful and looking forward to the future. Bilbao has such an interesting energy. I love watching the misty mountains! And my oh my, the moment when you drive from the airport through the mountain tunnel towards the bridge of Bilbao, it's priceless! That moment when the light hits your face and the city of Bilbao opens up to you, the first thing you see on your right is museum Guggenheim! This experience! You know you just entered a very promising city. I fell in love with this feeling of hope and new energy. And like always, I visited museum Guggenheim during my short stay. I could not wait to see the expo of Joan Miró. I love his approach to use real life topics and convert that into a surrealistic world. This is art! Bilbao grabbed my heart and soul.
Update 21: 27-04-2023
Update 20: 17-04-2023
The wedding picture of my grandparents made me want to go into the world of fashion. The picture was taken in Almeria during the 1960's. The dress of my grandmother was made by herself. She took a white table cloth and made it into a silhouette that was quite popular during that era. However, I never saw the dress in real life since it was lost during the migration towards the Netherlands. The smoking of my grandfather was luckily not lost, in fact I wore it several times during my studies at the academy of arts in Arnhem. The wedding picture would be an interesting source of inspiration for the campaign of project Search For Fashion. I will contact a photographer and see if we can translate this idea into a contemporary atmosphere.
Update 19: 12-04-2023
Recently we have been able to collaborate with label producers. 300 test labels were woven and these labels will be incorporated in the backside of the final S4F prototypes. With One Room Office we have decided that 3 final test prototypes will be produced in order to evaluate last adjustments. Based on the official prototypes OneRoomOffice will start a small production of total 14 items. 3x skirts, 3x tops and 8x dresses. On each label main information is incorporated. The only difference between the labels are 3 adaptations in size (S/M/L). The material used to create these labels is Rpet, recycled plastic from ocean clean up. In the future it will also be possible to weave the labels in for example bio-cotton. But the level of order has a minimum of 500 labels for bio-cotton. Meaning that I will postpone this large scale logo production until industrial application scale is reached. For the test of final prototypes we did not need 1500 labels yet (500 labels for size S, 500 labels for size M and 500 labels for size L). So, we decided to accept 300 test labels with Rpet materials for now (100 labels for size S, 100 labels for size M and 100 labels for size L).
Update 18: 29-03-2023
On the last weekend of March 2023 my mother and I planned a museum visit weekend for my grandmother in Zeeland The Netherlands. At Zeeuws Museum in Middelburg several exhibitions about protest and nature are displayed, and I thought that my grandmother would really find these expos interesting. She always loves to get surprised and to broaden her horizon, even still at age 86! My project via Cosme platform S4F is about honoring heritage and translating that traditional identity into my current production chain for my future commercial brand Arca Sphere. I come from a family from which the majority are females. Fashion has always been of high interest to most of them, because fashion is about identity, especially surrounding topics such as: freedom, independence and feminism have been of high importance. My grandmother for example, an analphabetic gorgeous lady that has a huge fascination for nature. She never went to school and did not learn how to read and write, but she surely knows every single detail in nature. Her knowledge for plants go all the way back to her childhood, where she worked in the Spanish fields picking olives. Coming to the Netherlands in the 70's opened up perspective towards independence for females. This topic was particularly interesting for my grandmother. In that generation the females mainly were seen as caretaker and doing the household etc. My grandmother submitted to the care taking role for many years, but at the same time she is very open about wanting to break those old habits. In her own words ''I dream about a future where females can choose whatever role they want to take, not because society tells them they have to be like this or that based on gender''. It's interesting to talk to her about these topics when we do our city trips.
Since I was a child I am connected and fascinated with fashion. My great grandmother made her own materials, such as shell form macrame bed sheets. My grandmother made her own wedding dress from white table cloth. Several others attended sewing classes. All so inspiring, and I guess I am the one who made this topic of fashion very big. With their support I was able to realize that dream, although they have been hesitant about if this could succeed yes or not. But even still, their support is endless and I am lucky to have it. I am also very proud of my mom, she succeeded to be an independent self sufficient women. She has been a great role model for me, and I consider her mission in life a success story. When we visited the protest exposition in Zeeuws Museum we all laughed at the text ''do not let the boys win'' by Lara Schnitger. We learned that during May 1911, British suffragette Charlotte Despard led a march of the national federation of women workers through Bermondsey in South London. A banner that displays ''national federation of women workers to fight, to struggle, to right the wrong''. A highly important and necessary statement, even in our current time nowadays. When I reflect this topic throughout my brand I personally think that it's important that women feel empowered wearing my fashion collection. To feel secure about expanding horizons and make dreams come true. To feel empowered, independent, beautiful and free!
Zeeland is famous for its maritime industry and history. At Zeeuws Museum several expositions can be discovered involving ship construction and historical references. Ship building feels very nostalgic to me, I love to see how miniature boats are made. So much patience and focus is involved in this process. It's so peaceful to experience that. A series of short films gives Zeeuws Museum visitors an insight into the work of conservators. A shipping disaster made from paper has been researched and restored to show them in the presentation ''This is Zeeland'' and ''Chambers of Wonder''.
Some personal highlights for me have been:
- Laurens Koole, model of sailing ships in stormy weather
c. 1887 (wood, paper, cotton, silk)
- Jan Frederik Schutz, shipwreck in waters of Zeeland
1849 (oil on canvas)
- Model of a ship's lock used for the closing of a dry dock in Antwerp
c, 1812 (wood)
- Jug with spout found in Reimerswaal
14th century (earthenware, barnacles)
- Paulus Reinman, pocket sundial with compass, Nurember
1604 (ivory, gilded bronze)
- Tapestry Battle of Lillo, Jan de Maecht, Hendrik Cornelisz.
Vroom, Hubrecht Leynier 1597 - 1598 (wool, silk)
Update 17: 10-03-2023
Vormforensen finished the process of developing the logos for Arca Sphere. We created a range of several layouts to choose from. I already started working on the woven brand-labels and paper tag-labels. OneRoomOffice send me a list of national and international suppliers who produce those labels. The coming month I will place an order to produce a small amount of labels that we can use in the final prototypes for project S4F. The idea is to order more labels in different qualities when official orders are placed at the international commercial fashion tradeshow fairs.
Update 16: 26-02-2023
This picture of my grandfather was taken during the 70's. It's the starting point concept for project Search For Fashion. He loved working on his miniature boat artwork, and I liked assisting him with the materials that he used to work with. I especially loved the magenta pink fishing-line material from Algeziras (South Spain). The main architectural base material that he mostly used was old wood that he would collect at the container trash in Hengelo. Bermuda is the triangle shape pattern that he cut out of thick paper. Currently the Alzheimer disease is getting worse by the week, and sometimes it helps to show old photographs from things that he loved doing when he was younger. This week I found this enclosed picture, and I am lucky to have found such hidden treasure. The reason why my grandfather used to make these boats was to give them as gifts to people who he met during his journey through Europe. ''It's very important to show people that help you gratitude for the things you accomplish in life'', that's what he used to tell us all when we were kids. I am very thankful to have such amazing grandparents!
Update 15: 11-02-2023
During the launch of project search for fashion I was able to develop 2 lines for my new label Arca Sphere. 1 line of weaving fashion items and another line of knitting fashion items. The first line that was finished is Michelangelo, a series of haute couture 3D knitted fashion designs. Initial prototypes have been developed in collaboration with Damien Semerdjian @ TextielLab Tilburg. We used the same types of Aitex biodegradable yarns for both weaving and knitting collection. The added value for the Michelangelo dress = zero waste design principle and seamlessly produced dress pattern design, meaning that the dress can be developed out of the Stoll ADF knitting machine in one entire pattern piece. The fashion design is inspired by my cousin, who unfortunately took his life during the corona pandemic in 2021. My goal was to capture his colorful spirit throughout the Michelangelo collection. The final prototype was scanned by Jaap from Replicad, and 3D artist Misha Gurovich created the atmosphere, which is inspired by fisherman village Salobreña.
3D art by: Misha Gurovich
Scan by: Replicad
Biodegradable yarns: Aitex
Materials: TextielLab Tilburg
Update 14: 03-02-2023
The woven test samples from TextilesJoyper have been reviewed, and some minor detail adjustments have been updated. We are currently ready for the production of the woven Bermuda design textiles at TexJoyper. Quico from Aitex is collecting the yarns and filaments, and once the team of TexJoyper have everything in house they can start the production. 50% of the woven samples were sent to the team of Care Applications in Alcoy. The team has done an amazing research on how to use several qualities of black dyestuffs into the woven samples. Care Applications has developed a technology to reduce the amount of resources used in the garment processing, and I received a detailed summary explaining the savings per kg of fabric versus the traditional process in bath. Care Applications did two separate dye tests on ''reactive black'' and ''sepia black'’ quality. The process is executed via ECOFinish® technology. Via this production system it is possible to reduce water from 80% to 60%, and energy to about 80% depending on the dyeing process. No salt is used throughout the reactive dyeing process.
The steps to follow in order to dye the Bermuda textiles are:
1. Weighing the fabric
2. Loading fabric into the washing machine
3. Preparation/mordanting phase of the fabric
4. Weighing the dye
5. Mixing the dye
6. Pouring the dye in to ECOFinish® system tank
7. ECOFinish® Nebulization process of the dye
Very sustainable processes with huge potential! I love both qualities of black techniques used within the TexJoyper samples. To my surprise it seems that both techniques of dyeing catch a different quality of yarn, meaning that the dessin pattern of the textile design show an adaptation in style. Reactive black shows the backdrop in total black and sail patterns in white. While sepia black shows a mirrored version, meaning sail patterns black and backdrop white. Besides the good aesthetic results it's even more important to realize that the dyeing developments of Care Applications have been processed with excellent sustainable results.
It's very important to reduce the usage of water and energy throughout the current polluting industrial production chain in fashion. Via online publications and papers it is stated that 2500 liters of water is used to produce a single t-shirt, and this really needs to change for a more sustainable future. I am happy that my team members are able to deliver innovative solutions that contribute to the international requirements of sustainability. Looking very much forward to the final steps of our collaborations!
Update 13: 02-01-2023
My contactperson from who I was renting my apartment turned out to know my family. The family of my great grandmother. She helped me to find family members during my stay in Salobreña. Everything went so fast! Within a few days I had the most fabulous dinner with family members. My uncle Santiago even offered me to drive me to airport Malaga during my day of departure. We had the most interesting conversations. I am happy that I felt that instant family connection. In some way he has the same spunk as my grandfather used to have. It's funny how people that you have never met before can give you that instant warm feeling. You just know instinctively that everything is correct. Salobreña has something magical that I can not even put into words, but I definitely want to go back in the future.
Update 12: 01-01-2023
When I think about the time that I had in Salobreña I can not find any words to capture everything that I have felt during my visit. The moment I was flying over the Sierra Nevada I kind of knew already my week was going to be unforgettable. I am happy that I was able to do that during the time when I am launching my commercial fashion line. My thoughts were completely open about my journey, I did not have any plan other than just find surprises along the way.
I come to visit my roots during a time where everything is very unclear for me, about what the future will bring and where I might go? My goal in a way is to find a place in life where I feel added value for my work, but more importantly the freedom and happiness for myself personally in the future. I have felt so many times working in Spain over the last year that my roots were somehow speaking to me. I get this indescribable feeling when I stare at mountains, it's very deep and powerful. Going back to the village where my grandparents come from gives me the space to learn more about the culture and everything around it.
The ancient village Salobreña was founded by the Phoenicians around the 8th century before Christ. Probably the most iconic and oldest well known object in Salobreña is the rock el Peñon near the La Guardia beach. Archeological studies note that the beach rock leads back towards inhabitants of the stone age. Another iconic monument of the village is the castle on top of the mountain. The first foundation of the castle was build in the 10th century. The current structure was build during the Nasrid dynasty (Emirate of Granada 1230 until 1492). Castillo de Salobreña is the result of the contribution of the Moslem and Christian architecture.
The architecture of the village around the castle is very organic and pure. The mountain is filled with inspiring handmade objects, and the white streets are richly decorated with colorful flowers. Many cats can be found within the area, it's interesting how peculiar they can be! There are specific parts within the village that I really liked. I fell in love with el plaza del ayuntamiento, but also the church nuestra senora del Rosario is astonishing! My grandparents shared many stories of this area within the village, and in some way being there at that moment felt unreal to me. It was just as I imagined as a child, but more serene even. After the first sunset I could surprisingly smell the night Jasmine within the streets (la dama de noche), which is the favorite flower of my grandmother. A lot of nice small details that unfolded like beautiful surprises.
The place where I felt the most deeply spiritually connected was when I walked on the beach towards La-Guardia. It was a very gloomy day, which is very rare within this sunny region in Spain. The rainy clouds were very low throughout the mountain area, and it allowed me to make some very epic photography. Caleta La-Guardia is right next to the center mountain village of Salobreña. This region is well know for its sugarcane fields and the sugar production factory. The factory is currently shut down, but it still has a touristic appeal to it. My personal interest is the fisherman cove near the Caleta village. I spoke to some locals and they confirmed me that my aunt used to live in a small beach cabin. My grandfather and his brother also used to lived there, and I was informed that 8 family members lived within that small beach cabin. Everything that I learned and saw that day give me goosebumps all over my body. I could not believe I was within the area where my grandfather spend most of his childhood years. I walked near the mountains where I saw several fisherman working in the rain. When I looked up towards the pitch black rocks I imagined my grandfather jumping towards the sea with his friends. Many stories that I could link throughout my mountain area walk. My heart filled with so much love that I felt I was home finally. I will never forget that gloomy day in Caleta La-Guardia.
My curiosity for heritage brought me to the village town hall. I wanted to learn more about my family tree, but unfortunately the people from the office told me that during the civil war all the documents got burned. My grandfather was born in 1935, and the information that the village town hall has available starts at 1937. The people from the office advised me to check the village church and ask for baptism documents. Luckily I was able to spontaneously get in contact with the church pastor, and he was able to grant me an official baptism document of my grandfather. On this document I found out who the father was of my grandfather, and via national Spanish army archives I was able to learn that my great-grandfather was in the resistance against Franco. He protested during the civil war in 1936. The document shows that my great-grandfather worked as a fisherman in Algeciras. It seems that I have a family history of several fisherman. My grandfather always spoke about his adventures on sea, but it's even more evident to me now that this tradition is shared throughout many generations. My surname is Montes, named after my great-grandfather, but I literally don't know anyone else from this family in Spain. This part of my heritage still remains a blank page for me.
The castle on top of the mountain is simply amazing! It just radiates ancient energy, but what is the history of this monument? During my first visit at the castle I walked up towards narrow white village streets and saw the moon right above the towers. It's interesting when you can see the sun and moon at the same time during the day, it has something magical and I love it. While entering the castle gate I could see the official coat of arms carved beautifully in the door. It shows the castle tower with the name SA-LO-BRE-NA around it. Crossing the castle garden big stone angular walls reach up to 8 meters. But not all the walls are original, because it's written that throughout the centuries parts of the towers have been collapsed due to earthquakes. I was informed that the towers were rebuild beautifully, with some original elements still part of it, but the people working on the renovation were never able to rebuild it towards its original glory. Another thing that surprised me, there were no signs or details to be found of the imprisoned lion, and it seems the locals were not a fan of the lion to begin with. The tour-guide explained that the lion was a gift of an international photographer. After the animal died it was best to not show any references of the lion, since the focus should be about the history of the castle. And more secrets are to be found, because archeologists recently discovered an original Moroccan bathhouse. The tents are still present, meaning the work has not been finished. I am very curious what the archeologists will discover more in the future. Some details might not be originally from the 10th century, but I surely fell in love with all those beautiful arches and endless ancient views!
During my last day I was walking on the mountain top and I heard some Christmas songs that my grandparents used to sing. To my surprise I saw that the church was open! It was closed all week, but due to cleaning services it was just open for a few hours. The nice village people even showed me the storage place where they keep all the objects and paintings of La Semana Santa. Such nice surprises! I was able to talk to a few people who informed me about the history of the church. The 16th century Mudejar style church was built on the site of the Moslem mosque. The original roof was constructed with a coffered ceiling made of wood and was destroyed in a fire in 1821. The interior was subsequently rebuilt. Some parts of the walls still show some clear damage, and this was very visible on the painting above the altar. It has many white scratches and burn stains on it. Some details just don't need to be restored. It was breathtaking to experience history in such raw form. I learned that Mudejar is a style of architecture and ornamentation in Spain using bricks, ceramic and stucco, created by Moslem craftsmen living under Christian rule. I love the mix of Moslem and Christian style throughout Granada. It's so mysterious and beautiful!
Update 11: 20-12-2022
The year 2022 has been sailing my directions towards Spain, especially with everything surrounding BIAAF, but also all the developments that have been going on via Aitex and project S4F. It just made me want to do some soul searching, and to search for a deeper meaning via Spanish culture and all its history. I wanted to know more about Andalucian heritage, specifically around the region where my grandfather grew up. The collection that I am currently creating is inspired by the stories of my fisherman grandfather. He is suffering from the mental disease Alzheimer, and over the last 10 years I have been recording some voice-tape conversations. You can hear these recordings for example abstractly via my Paris Tormenta presentation, a colleague of mine named Ralph Timmermans used these interviews for his soundscape. My grandfather talks a lot about his childhood times at the Spanish village where he was born, a fisherman village named Caleta-La Guardia, meaning: the guardian of the cove. Personally I have never seen Salobreña with my own eyes. I have only been there once at the entrance of the village like 20 years ago, but I did not enter since I was on a road trip to another city in Spain. My grandfather described to me that he loved the singing birds in the village and the lovely smells of the night flowers in the mountain area. Other than that he spoke about a lion that used to live within the castle of Salobreña (from which I always thought that this must have been a joke, and it was clearly not since I recently found out via my contacts at BIAAF). Also, I've been informed to still have family in Salobreña that I have never met. How come I never really had the time to meet them? Well, the answer to that is that I have always been very busy obsessively working in fashion, and in the past 15 years I never really allowed myself to have a real full on offline from everything vacation. The end of the year 2022 I decided that I needed to visit my roots and to understand more about my culture. Since this project is called the ''Search For Fashion'', I also got inspired to search more about my roots and to try and melt those worlds together! To be inspired by the village Salobreña, and to incorporate all that into my fashion collection that I am developing via S4F. My visit to Salobreña became the search for my culture.
Update 10: 10-12-2022
Studio VormForensen is almost finished with creating the logo for Arca-Sphere. I had a meeting with graphic designer Anne Marie in order to collaborate together on the final touches of the logo. During that meeting something special happened, because we actually started talking about the meaning behind the words ''Arca'' and ''Sphere''. We had a discussion about it and also researched some more in depth info online, which inspired Anne Marie to create a specific font around the trademark. We started playing on the laptop and our initial logo transformed into a completely different one! What a surprise, because we already confirmed that all 3 of the microscopic elements had to be the final logo. But it made more sense to split the 3 elements specifically for the 3 segments: 1 - filament, 2 - textile and 3 - fashion. This really made sense to me and I kept an open mind. In the end we created such an interesting new logo and typography. So, this means that I will have one official logo, and next to that 3 trademark elements that I can use for the specific segments of my label. This is so cool! I am really happy with the final outcome and I can't wait until the final updates are finalized.
Underneath the concept text for Arca Sphere.
Arca-Sphere. A symbiosis of materials that transform the architecture of fabric design. Ready to wear fashion label Arca Sphere was launched in 2021 by designer Jef Montes. The synergy between yarn, textile and fashion production. Montes has experience as an innovation production developer since 2012. The goal is to contribute towards the global demand on sustainability, that is highly needed within the current polluting textile and fashion industry. New methods have been developed via the transition within production chains and connecting the bridges between them. The result of this innovative process is the first capsule collection of Arca Sphere, named ''Bermuda''. The main objectives in order to create the fashion items are: circularity, zero waste production and innovative dyeing technology integration. The aesthetic of the fashion items embody the movement of sea waves. The textures of water reflection are incorporated into the development of the filaments and textile blueprints. Bermuda is inspired by the sail patterns of Gabriel Montes, a fisherman from the south of Spain. Signature sail motive textiles have been developed by: pattern-makers, technicians and product developers. Arca Sphere has a permanent and non-seasonal collection, the range of which will be expanded every year. Initial prototypes were produced via the European Commission Cosme programme 'search for fashion'.
Update 9: 06-12-2022
The last week of November I visited Valencia once more. For Cosme project Search For Fashion I decided to collaborate with TexJoyper in Concentania. On the 28th of November I met with Quico at the Sercotel in Alcoy. Quico is my project mentor for everything that I am doing within the Valencia region. He works for Aitex textile institute Alcoy. The first day Quico showed me the new facility of Aitex. The new building is located in the west part of Alcoy. It was such a surprise for me to see the entire building already there! I thought it was going to be finished around 2024, but it seems they are having a great progress building the entire new facility. It was such a powerful experience to be there, also feeling the mountain vibrations next to the new Aitex building. I loved it so much and it was great to be able to document this process with my camera. Quico explained me that the mountain top behind the new Aitex building has a lot of ancient history for the origin of the city Alcoy. He explained me that initially in the 13th century Moroccan people lived within these mountains, and that's where the name ''Alquy'' comes from. When you look at the mountain tops in the region you can see that there are several castle towers build. These castles were applied many centuries ago in order to communicate between cities. Huge fires were lit at these mountain top towers, as a warning sign for other cities that help was needed during for example war attacks. It's so inspiring to still see this history actually still quite intact in front of our own eyes nowadays. The Alcoy mountains radiate mysterious vibes. I love it!
After our visit at the new new building of Aitex we went to the old facility on the other side of the mountain. I saw Miguel working on the monofilament machine, he was working on extruding new monofilament prototypes. Quico was checking some woven textile with a magnifying glass, and this image reminded me of the logos that Studio VormForensen is currently preparing for my new fashion brand Arca-Sphere. They used microscopic images of my textile designs for their graphic experimental process. I wanted to use these microscopic images of Studio VormForensen for my woven structures, but first we need to finish the official logo before I start to incorporate it in an official woven textile design. But it was nice to find some new inspiration at the Aitex facility. Quico introduced me some new materials that they are working on, it's a bio compostable variation on PHB material. And as always, I do accidentally find some weird things that inspire me obsessively. I found some monofilament extrusion machine parts that reminded me of the 3D knitted Archi-Filament dress. I also saw these swirly wavy shapes at several pedestrian crossing of Bilbao. Archi-Filament waves!
It was a huge surprise for me when Quico brought me to another facility of Aitex. How many facilities does Aitex have in Alcoi? Wauw! I was amazed when Quico opened the doors of this building, because inside I saw an amazing ADF industrial computer controlled knitting machine! I was able to meet the technician that is specialized in knitting. His name is Ramon Baeza and he is working on the ADF machine for over 4 years by now. I had a conversation with him about possibly connecting him to Damien Semerdjian from TextielLab. I might want to work on this machine with Ramon in the near future. I also met Pablo, who is working with Miguel on the monofilament machine. He was experimenting with preparing materials for Miguel in this facility. It was interesting for me to see all these processes. Inside the facility there is also a huge variety of boxes with several bobbins and cones. Quico showed me the PHB material and he explained me that this is quite new on the market. The difference with PLA and PHB is that PLA is biodegradable and PHB is bio compostable. PHB is part of the polyester family, but this specific new PHB material is a variant made from bacteria. This is so interesting!
I needed to collect some yarns to bring to my meeting with Carmina from Care Applications. I looked inside the yarn and filament closets and to my surprise I found a yarn sample that I would have liked to develop during project Re-FREAM. When Jaime prepared the latest version (February 2020) of the Aitex Adaptive Archi-Filament I asked him if we could prepare another sample in the future, where we can intertwine the elastane inside the textured multifilament. With Re-FREAM we separated the elastane and the multifilament, twisting them around each other, and coated the entire thing with PVA liquid. If the elastane and multifilament would have been produced all together inside one yarn the yarn performance would be even better! I wrote this in my former reports before, and Jaime told me that this yarn did not exist yet, and that we would need to develop this within a new project. So, it was so lovely for me to find this already developed prototype of my idea! My last meeting for the 1st day was with Carmina and Romano from Care Applications. We talked our ideas through and Carmina wrote everything down that I am planning to develop with TexJoyper weaving company. I brought the S4F fashion design samples with me, and I was happy to hear they loved the aesthetics. Romano gave me some tips on what materials would be best to use for the warp of the weaving machine. Cotton would be the most suitable for the Care Applications team to dye their pigments successfully.
The second day in Spain was all about weaving my designs at TexJoyper weaving company. I was so excited, because this is the first time I am working on an industrial application scale approach! It was a huge step for me, because I am used to weaving at TextielLab Tilburg, which is really a place for development. TexJoyper however is really a production company, so I did not really know what to expect. I kept an open mind and I met José, the owner of TexJoyper. It was interesting to hear the vision of TexJoyper and where he wants to bring the company in the near future. It was so admirable how much devotion he was showing, especially when dealing with the current global energy crisis that affects the entire commercial production chains. He gave Quico and myself an interesting tour within his company.
The moment I entered the great hall, where several industrial weaving machines were lined up, I immediately fell in love! Such an impressive scenery to experience. I was so happy that I was experiencing this. I also met Gonzalo, and he joined José with the tour. Gonzalo was explaining us how he already prepared a few machines to test our designs. He also explained what the technical difference was between the machines of TextielLab Tilburg and the machines of TexJoyper. My digital blueprint did not fit the idea of how the machines of TexJoyper work. There needs to be a repetition within the digital blueprint. I did not foresee this issue and at first I was a bit worried that I did not prepare well enough. But luckily Gonzalo came with a few great solution and he even took the time to show me how the software works. I just loved the entire moment!
Quico brought several Aitex materials to TexJoyper:
- PLA multifilament (raw white)
- PLA monofilament (aqua green)
- PHB multifilament (lavender blue)
- Rpet multifilament - with a special bubble texture finishing (black)
On the third day Quico brought me once more to the facility up the mountain to research some new yarns. I saw some stretchy monofilaments that I would really love to work with in the future. These stretchy monofilaments have biodegradable value also, and this filament has a very nice looking quality. Also, to my surprise I found a green yarn that had the same texture similar to the Adaptive Archi-Filament from project Re-FREAM. I was curious about this yarn, because it felt the same to me. I grabbed some water and dipped the yarn into the water, and to my shock it started moving exactly the same as the Adaptive Archi-Filament. I loved the movements! And also the green color was very nice! It was so funny to me that I just naturally discovered this. And this quality is much thinner also compared to the 2020 Adaptive Archi-Filament. I started researching the inner structure and it was exactly the same as the one that I found a few days ago! The yarn that had the elastane inside the core of the texturized multifilament. I just can't believe that this was already developed! So cool! I asked Quico if I could do some tests while filming it. Underneath you can see the video with the new version of the Adaptive Archi-Filament.
After this experiment Quico took me on a lovely cultural trip. We drove into a valley where the textile industry of Alcoi started. Several ruins of textile factories were overgrown with plants. Many chimneys were still intact, and I also loved all the arches within this area! It was such an epic environment and I am so thankful that Quico took all the time and effort for me to explain what we saw and where these things were linked to. In the 18th century the flow of water from El Molinar and the existence of considerable drops in level along upper reaches of the river gave rise to the establishment of factory buildings, dedicated to the textile and paper manufacturing processes. I think it was very important for me to see this place, because the meaning of this inspiring area evoked so many moments linked to Alcoy history and its origin. Quico also informed me that the city of Alcoy is investing to make this specific region into a museum area. I would love to see this happen!
On the forth and last day during my visit we went back to TexJoyper. Gonzalo prepared the jacquard weaving machines and installed all the yarns and filaments from Quico. He showed me what he had done to my sail pattern blueprint. Gonzalo made 2 different variations and I really loved both of them! I was so inspired to see his professionalism as a product developer so beautifully translated into the actual woven material. During the weaving production he showed me many variations using sizing of the blueprint versus yarn and filament integration. We played around with color gradient, and this really gave the textile design more contrast and playful depths. I became emotional looking at the weaving production, because I saw the journey of my grandparents within these sail patterns. I loved having that deep moment feeling all this family history with sailing and adventure seeking. At that same time I learned that the father of José actually visits the factory on a daily base. It was a funny moment when I met the father of José, because I am familiar to this Spanish sentiment, and I am so thankful that I was part of this moment. I also learned that another colleague that I met is actually the sister of Gonzalo. His father and grandfather also worked within the textile industry. It's a family loving business that has soul and warmth. I love love love this!
I also learned that one of the weavers has actually a lot of experience within the textile industry. I have seen him over the last few days, and I felt drawn to his energy. He seemed really focused working on the machines, and I was lucky enough to have a moment to interview him. His name is Ico and he explained me that he has been working in the textile industry as a teenager! Ico has 33 years of experience working in TexJoyper. He and another colleague did a demonstration for me how they worked installing the warp of another jacquard machine. This was a mechanic process that cost around an hour, and the machine has around 17400 needles that transfer the warp yarns. Ico also explained me that he used to manually install the warp threads by hand, but these machines had much less quantity warp yarns, like around 2000 he explained.
I have learned so much in just a week or so. All this extra knowledge creates more value to my experience as an innovation production developer. It has been so amazing to see the past and the future so organically intertwined within the textile journey of Alcoy. I am so lucky that I can be a part of this and I want to personally thank Quico for the amazing time that I have had in Alcoy. I also really enjoyed our conversations and exquisite dinners! Looking very much forward to the next steps and to create a beautiful collection together!
Update 8: 20-11-2022
After winning the grand prize for BIAAF international art & fashion I was invited by the team of BIAAF to visit Bilbao in November 2022. I was very happy to visit the city for a second time. The environment, the culture, the art and everything evolving the Basque country really inspired me when I visited half a year a go. I was excited to go back one again.
BIAAF prepared a nice agenda for me evolving the Bizkaia Design Week. Rocio from BIAAF connected me to Adele @ Basque bio design center. I had the opportunity to do an online presentation about my work over the last 10 years. This was a good platform for me to summarize for myself and the outside world what I have been working on for a decade. Adele and myself had some initial contact in order to prepare my visit to Bilbao. I send a box full of knitted prototypes from my newest project Adaptive Archi-Filament.
When I landed in Bilbao Rocio awaited me at the airport. It was lovely to get such a warm welcome and to reconnect. Team BIAAF arranged everything for me during my stay in Bilbao. I could have not wished for anything more, because the love that I received is priceless for me. I had an amazing view in the lovely Miro hotel. Straight outside my window I saw the inspiring building of museum Guggenheim. The city views of Bilbao are a mystery for me, it's like the mountains trigger my core energy, I cant describe the feeling that I get from this city. But this time the environment vibrations triggered me in a deeper way. It was the perfect moment for me to re-visit museum Guggenheim once again.
Museum Guggenheim recently refreshed their collection into an amazing exposition evolving their 25th anniversary. I was happy to discover more new art and curation this round. When I entered the building I went to the right corner and I saw that a new space has been opened. Inside I walked towards a wishing tree from Joko Ono. I saw countless papers hanging inside the wish-tree, and the notes were written by several people that wanted to share their memory into this artwork. I loved looking at this tree, because I felt a little bit closer to my recently passed away cousin Bryan. Also, during the flight I was thinking of him when I was staring at the clouds. It was nice that I could feel his energy once again in some abstract way. When I went towards the left corner in the room I saw a photograph of waves by Gerhard Richter, and beside it there was laying a small metal boat full with plastic wraps by Susana Salono. It shocked me very deeply to find this artwork, knowing for a fact that my cousin commit suicide in a similar boat last year. I cant even describe what I felt when I found all these hits and pieces of my cousin surrounding my visit to Bilbao. I needed to take a breath and have a small break after that experience.
After my small break I wanted to see more color and went into another room where I saw a graffiti looking artwork by Francesco Clemente. At first I did not really like all that chaos and I wanted to leave this room. But one specific part of the painting spoke to me. It was a small boat floating on water, and underneath you could see what I think resembled a small whale. Inside the boat there was a form of a person sitting with their hands hiding their eyes crying. I felt that this person resembled me in some way, and I just could not hide my emotions anymore. So much symbolism and deep emotional experiences came like a wave over me. I do believe in signs, and my intuition was telling me that I was in the right space at the right time. I felt blessed to discover all these gifts that have been given to me freely.
I've seen several uplifting beautiful art-pieces in Museum Guggenheim, very colorful pieces by several artists in general. I loved the 25th anniversary collection of museum Guggenheim. In the evening I met Rocio to also visit Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao. In this amazing museum I saw a complete different collection and art curation, also the style of this museum is very sharp and minimal. I love it so much! The architecture in and outside are very well taken care off. I am very impressed about the overall impression of Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao . My favorite piece was by Francis Bacon, one of my favorite artists in general!
The presentation at the Basque Bio Design Center began with an amazing tour that was led by Adele. I learned a lot about new materials and the vision of the center. It's a great place to find inspiration within the showroom, where several experimental projects are showcased, unraveling new ideas around the spectrum of bio materials, such as for example fish leather. During the Basque Bio Design Center event I was able to connect with Materially and we spoke about introducing my work in their showroom. It was good to hear about the vision of Materially and it will be interesting for me to stay in contact with their team over the coming years. Materially will focus on expanding and growing their business around their platform and material library. Underneath I uploaded my presentation at the Basque Bio Design Center.
After my online presentation I was able to present a small masterclass at the Basque Bio Design Center. I brought my 3D knitting samples with me that I developed with Damien Semerdjian at TextielLab Tilburg. The idea was to do a collaboration with the Spanish design students and to inspire each other. Some of the students could weave their own textile with the yarns that I developed with Aitex textile institute Alcoy. The other students were draping collaboratively with me on several mannequins. We documented the process and some drapes really inspired me to create a new project in the future. It was much fun to do this masterclass!
My cultural explorations continued in the city center of Bilbao. I had the opportunity to visit the Bilbao Maritime Museum. I especially loved to find the workshops inside the museum where the craftsman were working on miniature ships. This was very nostalgic for me to experience, especially having childhood memories from my grandfather working on miniature ships. Next to that I also learned that in Bilbao first the harbor was build, and afterwards the city Bilbao came to life. This history is still very much noticeable in the Bilbao region. I really love to discover all these references day by day. It's a nice surprise each time I learn something new in Bilbao.
On top of all the nice events and new contacts made I was also invited by Charo and Rocio from team BIAAF to attend several dinners. I learned a lot about the Basque kitchen, and I fell in love with everything! It was good to have open conversations about our visions and plans for the coming years. I felt very at easy with team BIAAF, and they really made me feel like I was at home. I am very thankful to them and I can really say with confidence that Bilbao feels like a new home for me. It's great to discover new places and also to feel that people genuinely give you love. Because to find these things in life is very rare these days, and I am very lucky that I was able to experience that. Especially knowing that my grandparents always used to tell me that real genuine love can never be bought. Genuine care outside family circles is something that people in general are able to receive once mutual respect and energies are on the same wave length. I felt that these kind of energies unraveled during my visit in Bilbao. We understood this language and it is a real match! And I will personally take care and cherish all that with positivity. Now that I have learned all these new things I will continue my journey and try to find like-minded people that appreciate to collaborate on the level of professionalism and genuine care for each other.
Update 7: 30-09-2022
The September edition from Tranoï was my first ever attending the fashion tradeshow. It has been a great introduction to the platform. The location for this edition was the Palais Brongniart in Paris. I was able to meet many interesting people such as: buyers, agents, designers, influencers, students, press, stylists etc. It was good moment for me to experience everything to the max, and to really learn and grow from everything that could be beneficial for my brand in the future. I was able to expand my network on a global scale and for me personally I was really focusing on what buyers are expecting from my products. It was surprising that there have been serious conversations on buying designs that have not been even fully developed yet. It was so nice to hear from the buyers that they could feel my passion and devotion for everything that I am aiming for in the future. It really fills my heart with good energy that I am able to transfer this kind of trust to the lovely people that meet me at the tradeshow for the first time ever! My aim is to join Tranoï once again in March 2023 and to keep this nice story ongoing. I feel ready for it!
Update 6: 10-08-2022
In order to create my own textile design I would need to prepare a textile blueprint. I can use Photoshop software to prepare some tests. Initially I wanted to use the sail pattern from project Velero, but I also want to experiment with the new logo that studio Vormforensen prepared for my fashion label Arca-Sphere. It's nice to play with these digital transparencies and think about how this will transfer into the textile texture? I will need to think about what kind of yarns I want to use for the textile design, because this will highly influence the final outcome of the textile design. Next to that, I will also need to think about how we will create some kind of stiff versus flexible effect within the textile design. This kind of binding balance will contribute to the architectural character of the Bermuda textile design. Underneath you can find the first test of the digital blueprint.
Update 5: 18-07-2022
It seems the industry is searching for the new meaning of what haute couture should become in the future. The current fashion industry is shifting with ready to wear becoming the new haute couture. Ready to wear with the haute couture price on it! A ShowStudio interview quote from ''Kerry Taylor'' that resonated with me: "Cristobal would roll over in his grave knowing that haute couture in the future meant denim jeans". Debating the relevance of couture in the future? So, recently I have visited the museum of Balenciaga (Getaria @ Spain) and I heard the director of the museum ''Miren Vives'' explaining about Cristobals vision. What came through is that she clearly did not like the (sneakers mentality) commercial direction of the current Balenciaga brand. It's her mission to keep the real Balenciaga vision alive, and I felt that during her speeches. During the exposition of Balenciaga it became evident that his road had a clear step by step process, with the idea that every innovation needs to have time and love investment. This felt really refreshing to me, especially in the current time where everything needs to be about speed fast forward! I personally feel like I have searched for a deeper meaning in my fashion over the last 10 years. The development of the artistic and mainly technical process have been in more relevance of my world compared to the commercial needs, which up to this point I have put on the low importance side of development. Sure, commercial growth is important, but I feel that the relevance in the future is within innovation production development, especially when we live in a world that is graving for change with a capital C. It's really important for a designer in general to understand the long term needs in the future of fashion, which in my opinion are production and material-wise. Going from macro to micro and to understand understand as a fashion designer what goes on within the entire chain. We can't be here up the chain and just look down and not really understand the details and complexity of what goes on underneath us. It's also our responsibility as future generation designers to make bridges and learn about it. I have heard so many influential academic professionals graving for designers to expand and explore beyond their own comfort zone. A shift of mentality and attitude. Step by step we will evolve and improve. Yes, it would mean total time dedication, but innovations only become meaningful in the future when you learn how to commit on maximum level. At least, this is what I have learned up so far building my experience within this industry. In my search for the development of my current fashion collection I dedicate my project to create 1 single signature ready to wear piece (with a real haute couture approach), and to really focus on all aspects to be able to create that piece. Meaning: materials sourcing, yarn development, textile design, toile processing, prototyping, sizing, production development, sustainable dyeing, exposure, sales and logistics etc. I choose to document this process throughout updates and to be transparent about how complex it really is to at least create one single fashion design item! It's nice to be able to provide this journey online. It is also good to currently learn that several people are starting to talk more openly about the topic of haute couture, because I personally feel that Kerry Taylor really spoke a lot of peoples minds when they saw the current Balenciaga July 2022 couture show. The search for what fashion should look like in the future continues! Should couture still have that really high fashion total look feel? All the way starting from the inside, throughout the imaginative world that communicates via the outside. Yes!!!!, I do share that view on fashion! Ready to wear = ready to wear and haute couture = haute couture! It's not about denim in general, because Gaultier has proven many decades already that denim in couture is very high fashion. The issue here is more about that what if ready to wear is becoming the haute couture of the future? Couture should stay haute, and it has nothing to do with streetwear that just simply seems to misuse the Balenciaga legacy and trademark. Yes, fashion needs to evolve, but it should evolve in a good and respectful manner. Especially with legendary brands such as Balenciaga!
Update 4: 15-07-2022
The final step of the initial toile process @ OneRoomOffice is complete. It was lovely to work with model Juul again. She opened my show during my debut in Paris back in 2017. She explained me how she is continuing her road in textiles, doing a bachelor degree at Saxion hogeschool in Enschede. This is amazing! It's really nice how you can inspire each other like that, to collaborate and open new perspectives towards future goals. I am happy for her that she is moving forward in this direction. The stories that she shared with me, doing school field trips in Morocco and to visit textile factories, really trigger my curiosity senses. I might look into this in the near future!
It was a good idea from Sybille to fit the original Tormenta designs and afterwards fit the new Bermuda toile. This way we can put the pictures next to eachother and see if we need to adjust some details within the pattern design. The last time we cut the toiles open and created some extra fabric space, and it really shows to have a more relaxed feel during the second fitting. It's also really interesting to compare and see the influence of textile design. The cotton toile has a more paper feel to it, which I find inspiring also. The black Tormenta design feels more fragile and relaxed. Maybe I can find a balance between those 2 prototypes, to not be too fragile and not be too stiff either!
Team OneRoomOffice changed the knee length in the Bermuda dress sample. The new adjusted length feels much better. We will adjust this length also for the original skirt design. We also adjusted the pleating near the chest area of the top. It feels more well put together now that it's placed a few cm's towards the right. The overall idea for the adapted dress design is to attach the top and skirt to each other, in order to create a new dress out of it. Surprisingly the shape of the original design slightly changes, allowing the dress to have its own kind of aesthetic. Initially I thought the skirt, top and dress design would have a complete duplicated total feel, but it's not the case and I really love that! At this point I am feeling secure enough to temporarily wrap up this good start with OneRoomOffice. I will continue the next coming months to design the textiles with TexJoyper. More updates about that will follow soon!
Update 3: 30-06-2022
The first step of the project was to make a toile from the Tormenta skirt and top. The team of OneRoomOffice focused on mainly square and rectangular patterns, to finally produce an entire garment out of it. Sybille (co-founder) from OneRoomOffice explained me how she was playing around with the inlay of the patterns on the software program that she works with. This process is like puzzle pieces that needs to fit perfectly with each other. It was interesting for me to learn about this process, because it inspires me to think about how I would approach creating the textile design for this project.
Through my contact Zoë Mesman (previous intern and ArtEZ Arnhem alumni) it was able to arrange a lovely model to do the fitting session with Sybille. Our model Lisa is in her 3rd year of ArtEZ currently and her roots are from Ukraine. I was instantly drawn to the jewelry that she was wearing and I made some pictures. I might use some of the textures from this jewelry to produce the blueprint of the textile design. Spontaneous moments like these inspire me and I always love these kind of unexpected surprises in life.
Sybille and I were brainstorming about the fit. The top was almost instantly good pattern-wise, just some detail changes over there. The skirt I would love to have some extra volume, because I personally love when my designed textiles have the air to move around the body. It feels more relaxed and sensual for me. We have been working around a mannequin and cut the toile open to create extra space. We changed the style of the pleating a bit to create a different feel for the textile shape. Sybille has been writing down everything that we mentioned, and I feel I continue to work on the textile design in Spain. The toile stage for me personally was almost intact already. I would like to see the OneRoomOffice transfer dress variant toile soon. More updates about that will follow in the next coming months.
I love to document some technical making process, especially when the hands of the makers looks so impressively skilled. Sybille and myself will work on the pattern inlay for the next coming weeks. I think it's already interesting to see how the pattern software shows how efficient the inlay actually is. Underneath I can share some of that data:
- total patterns top = 9x
- efficiency = 77%
- yield = 134,41 cm
- width = 120 cm (needs to be around 160 cm)
Update 2: 28-06-2022Welcome to an entire new project evolving around creating my first ever ready to wear collection. The search for fashion project is an accelerator program (Cosme @ European Commission) that allows start ups to create a business model and capsule collection.
After nearly 10 years working as an innovation production developer I feel ready to create my first commercial collection and to really know and understand what I am selling to buyers. I currently have a clear idea on where source materials come from and how these can be transformed into signature textiles, with the idea of innovative no waste 3D shape produced patterns that are converted into contemporary fashion designs. My main partners for the project are OneRoomOffice (located in the Netherlands), Textiles Joyper (located in Spain) and Care Applications (located also in Spain). Besides my main partners I will also have contact with Aitex Textile Institute Alcoy, who will support me on the materials that will be woven @ Textiles Joyper. Care Applications will work on sustainable dyeing techniques, with the use of nano nebulization technology, which reduce the textile dye process with minus 80% water use (normal t-shirt for example uses 2500 liters of water to get dyed in the current industrial dye systems) The process starts with OneRoomOffice, an atelier with experienced patterns makers in Arnhem. The studio of Adaptive Skins is also located in Arnhem, which makes it always easy to travel to the fashion production atelier when I need to double check on details last minute. The designs that I choose for my new start up Arca-Sphere are based from my 2018 Hyeres collection Tormenta. The prototype was given to the patternmakers and sewers of OneRoomOffice. I am happy with the first toiles that they made. We will continue working on this design for the next coming months. Underneath a first impression of the designs.
Update 1: 18-03-2022
During the second week of March 2022 several entrepreneurs in Europe were invited to attend the S4F (project search for fashion) sandpit days in Athens Greece. It was nice to see Athens for the first time in my life. The city was giving me inspiring ancient vibrations, it felt really deep and good personally. It was also nice to see what several other start-ups in Europe are doing to create a more sustainable future in fashion. The goal of this event was to select projects in order to join the S4F European Commission Cosme start-up programme. In the end 25 projects were selected and project Bermuda was granted the 10K fund, that also includes mentor guidance and business development. The programme will last one year and the final outcome will be my first ever official capsule ready to wear collection.