What is your message for Europe?

That was the central question during ‘Dress to Protest’: a collaboration that we started with FASHIONCLASH in 2019. The collaboration started with a series of ‘Dress to Protest’ workshops for youngsters from the Euregion and culminated in a creative highlight during the Maastricht Europe Days. From 2-8 December 2019, 10 young fashion designers from all over Europe worked in our glass house – Pop-up Atelier Europe – on a Europa collection. On December 8, their designs were shown during a spectacular fashion show at the closing of the Maastricht Europe Days.

Pop-up Atelier Europe: 10 visions of Europe captured in fashion creations

During this week, the team of designers worked hard in the glass house at Mosae Forum, which attracted a lot of visitors. The young designers came from all over Europe: Finland, Ukraine, Belgium, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Russia. They were inspired by the creations that the young people had made in the Dress to Protest workshops.

The fashion designers were linked to artists from the Maastricht Theater Academy and iArts Maastricht to show the creations in a special way and to tell the story behind them in a fashion show.

Watch this beautiful video below of Steve Iseger initiated by FASHIONCLASH, and see how the European stories of Dress to Protest and Pop-up Atelier Europe came together during the Maastricht Europe Days.

Europe Collection by ten fashion designers

In the Pop-up Atelier Europa of Studio Europa Maastricht and FASHIONCLASH, ten young European fashion designers worked  together to develop a Europe Collection within one week. They did this during the Maastricht Europe Days from a glass house at Mosae Forum from 2 to 8 December. Designers from countries like UK, Finland, Ukraine, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Netherlands, Serbia and Russia drew inspiration from the Dress to Protest workshops that were organized earlier this year for young people  from the Euregion. In addition, the designers were paired to performers, the students of the Toneelacademie Maastricht and iArts  Maastricht, with the aim to express their concept through a short  performance. The result is a collection of ten different approaches and  visions about Europe translated into fashion creations. During the closing show of the Maastricht Europe Days on 8 December, the ten outfits were unveiled with a performance in the Eiffel building in Maastricht.

Text: FASHIONCLASH
Photography: Laura Knipsael

Beatrice Sangster, performer Giovanni Brand

The concept for this project was created in response to our current political environment across Europe. The European Migrant crisis. The number of forcibly displaced migrants and refugees has reached the highest level since the second world war. Refugees arriving in Europe and at Europe’s borders, crossing the Mediterranean Sea passage to escape political turmoil, persecution, war, or violence in the hope of a safer future in Europe. The refugees and migrants face serious humanitarian and protection challenges. The hardship of the journey, the increasing tightening of the borders, and the abuses of smugglers. And as arrivals increase, reception capacity and conditions remain seriously inadequate.

Came across in the news, of refugees having fake life jackets when they risk their lives to cross the sea to Europe. Refugees drown when their overcrowded boats fill with water and sink, or capsize. Chance of survival is slim without life jackets made to international standards. Refugees being sold cheaper, badly made, fake life jackets with non-buoyant filling. With no idea that their life jackets are fake, and are without protection.

To highlight this issue, I used the life jacket as an essential piece of safety equipment for these people’s journey, a symbol for protection, specifically working with one made from non-buoyant filling. And the symbol of the European Flag as a critical debate, EU states have a responsibility to offer refugees protection, but the increased immigration to Europe from other continents has encountered resistance in many European countries.

Benedetta Marcucci, performer Seppe Salomé

Nowadays too many things in the world and in Europe, are going in the wrong way, that is why with the outfit I made for the “Dress to Protest” project I would like to send a message of positivity and awareness.

I have the feeling that as Europeans we carry a lot with us, first among everything the complexity of our history, which we should never forget but be more conscious of it, in order to not repeat the same mistakes and to enhance all the positive things that come from it.

The draped dress represents Europe, from the Greek Mythology, and the cape made of different textile manipulations represents what Europe carries with it: from history, to art, to different cultures and religions.

I have chosen to use different shades of white colour to represent the idea of negativity refuse, in order to purify and enhance ourselves as Europeans and the whole Europe as only one country.

I want to make people think about all those aspects, that we should enhance all the amazing and unique things we have, not take them for granted, that we should embrace every culture, instead of pretending to be united but being scared of what is different from what we are used to.

Julia Montin, performer Amber Rozema

What if your purchase past was visible? In the fast-moving world of fashion and momentariness of social media, the need to purchase more and more new things shown to us is overwhelming. Overconsumption of disposable garments is easy because of their presence on every shopping street across the world. Cheapness makes many justify impulse buying things they might only wear once. But garments don’t disappear after worn once for on instagram picture and being thrown away because they’re not considered valuable – they become waste.

Julina Bezold, performer Tomas Claessens

Europe Comfort Zone?
a research-hued, unfinished stream of thoughts by wholina

In Europe, fortunately, most of our physical and safety needs are met. In times when so much seems to go wrong, we sometimes forget how valuable it is to have food and clothing in abundance, to have a roof over our heads and to live in the world’s most successful peace project. The psychologist Abraham Maslow has created a pyramid model of human needs which states that only when the basic needs (physiological, safety) are met we as humans can deal with other stages like love & belonging, esteem and self-actualization.

During research we have also encountered an experiment of existential psychiatrist Irvin D. Yalom, who undertook the same experiment multiple times: Three to four hundred people, men and women – by no means desperate or in need of help, but throughout successful, life-affirming and well-dressed people with appropriate charisma are asked to pair up and ask each other a simple question: “What do you want?”_

– They are equally stirred up in their innermost being. They call for people who are lost forever – deceased or disappeared parents, spouses, children and friends: “I want to see you again” – “I want your love” – “I want you to be proud of me” – “I want you to know how much I love you and how sorry I am that I never told you that” – “I want you to come back – I’m so lonely. “ – “I want to finally experience the childhood I never had.” – “I want to be healthy again.” – “ I want to be loved and respected.” – “I want to give meaning to my life.” – “I want to achieve something, have influence, play an important role, I want to be remembered.” So many desires. And so many pains that break out within a few minutes. Pain of fate. Pain of life. An ubiquitous pain that constantly slumbers under the membrane of life. A pain that is all too easily stirred up.

( Irvin D. Yalom; “Love’s executioner and other Tales of Psychotherapy)

So, if within a very short time, these desires burst out, couldn’t we assume that we all share them? The desire for love, respect, meaningful achievements and to remain remembered. While we might share these desires with our loved ones, we often forget that our distant, superficial, daily environment shares exactly the same worries, fears and desires as we do. The cashier, the new employee, the people on the street… Regardless of nationality, gender, language group, culture, profession or sexuality, we believe that this is where individuality becomes uniformity. In our notion, this is where people could be more understanding and sympathetic with each other. In fact, more open and kinder. As an ironic comment we translated these wishes to Esperanto. A language that was planned to connect people in Europe, but in fact is not understood by the majority. To us a symbol of the separation that exists between mankind. For the performance, we silkscreen printed these phrases on the dress, surrounded by the literal comfort zone we’re in, our projection surface that we show to the outside, revealing the underlying human desires. Followed by the act of true revelation – being naked. An appeal to our equality, not our differences, a food for thought for more understanding and attention to our social environment. We also looked at the ambivalence of humour and seriousness. Something that looks funny or comical from the outside becomes something human through the removal of layers.

Kateryna Bioko, performer Melanie Barelds

During Soviet times Ukraine and many other Soviet countries faced oppression of national languages and were forced to speak Russian. After years new generations were born for who Russian language is more native than Ukrainian. At the same time English is praised and encouraged to learn as it is a connection point with Europe. Desire to preserve Ukrainian language within all the influences became a point of political manipulation of the government and neighbouring countries, separating Ukrainian citizens. My garment represents the unity of chaos, stating that language should never separate humanity as it happened in the Tower of Babel myth.

María Ossaba, performer Tijn Hoekzema

I am inspired by diversity in differences. That is why the topic I will discuss will be xenophobia. It seems to me that this problem is sometimes so subtle that it is difficult to detect and / or denounce it. I want to represent this struggle from a “positive” protest, so I will omit the NO in my messages. I want to give elements in my protest of what is needed, not of what we cannot do. The world needs more love and tolerance, we need to lend our hands and give shelter; our warmth, the majority can with the minority!

“Let’s give thanks for the diversity, let’s start seeing it clearly, so many fall, so few get up, take my hand.”

I am an immigrant and only we know how difficult it is to adapt, and undergo the loneliness and discrimination, who think that our intelligence is measured by our racial origin.

Many doors were closed, by language, by colour, by tone of voice, there was never a direct comment, only indirect, so it becomes more difficult to recognize the problem itself.

Love is our race, our language, our religion ….

Marko Feher, performer Romy Moons

“This project was one big challenge for me. Through the project I wanted to show how people who

living in Bosnia and Herzegovina is actually felt in Europe and even in the European Union.

I used social networks, Instagram, and checked with people who follow me, how they feel and how they think Europe is treating them.

Most of us think that we are always unfairly isolated and viewed as less important and less valuable, many consider Europe, to be our evil stepmother and that there is place for all but not for us.

So, I decided to make the coat (which represent army looking person, strong and powerful) and yet full of heart’s and love for some selected and valuable ones. All 43 European countries except Bosnia and Herzegovina are on the coat, that means 43 hearts on a coat and only one Bosnian and Herzegovian separated, that is how we feel. I hope that our people will not be seen through the bad political situation that runs our country and politicians lead in it, I hope that Europe will give an opportunity for us young people to be a part of the world, to feel that way, to have the freedom to travel, learn, work, and not that our every visit to another country is a huge stress, explaining to border control that we are not there to make incidents or stay illegal and disrupt the economy of the country, let us stand by the others, I am sure there will be more love in this world.”

Nevena Ivanovic, performer Nina Wilson

In the past few years, I was researching the subject of origin and identity through my work. I think that we all have to be aware that there is no such thing as a clear identity. We all are a mixture of a few different nationalities or at least we feel so. That is something that made me think about affiliation. Is affiliation determined by how we feel about being part of some community or it has to be more than just a personal identification and it has to follow some rigid rules? My piece is a mixture of different influences from a few different cultures that I feel as I belong to. Also, this outfit is a part of my personal experiment which is based on a following inspiration that is driven from different cultures and making a possible DNA world map of my origin. The results of my work will be compared to a real DNA test when I feel I have come to the end of my research.

Michelle Cornelissen, performer Cecilia A. Thoden van Velzen

Vissi d’Arte tells the story of many young immigrants who try to cross the borders of Europe and find out that what seemed to be a warm and welcoming continent, is in fact not taking people in without receiving something in return.

In our case, a young opera singer, who lives for art, yet can only enter the EU if she sings for them. In other words, she would have to sell her voice if she wants to work and live in Europe.

‘My talent is no password,
My voice can’t be my passport.’

Yana Monk, performer Bo Oudendijk

Rather subtly poetic than explicitly politic the outfit for DTP project stands for tolerance. Communicating through analogy with Hvaldimir (beluga whale detected in the waters of Norway back in April 2019 acclaimed to be Russian spy) Yana speculates on human trait to make assumptions about others or situations which are never quite accurate.

“I prefer to embark on a discussion, not a protest… ” – she says.

In a grotesque manner Yana works her way through mixed visual references appealing to recurring stereotypes found in most forms of media nowadays.

Who do you see? An Islamic extremist, Mississippi fisherman, Japanese construction worker? Incorporating the elements of those, the outfit reminds more of an emperor China’s Xia dynasty dress.

Eventually the seafarer jacket borrowed from the local fishing store in Maastricht has turned into an ‘exploded’ open coat which loose panels humbly followed Bo Oudendijk floating dance. The performer has held an improvised grenade bag cherished near to his heart. To top it all, assembled from batteries, fuses and lighting components the neck piece touches on humanity’s ever increasing demand for energy and its potential disruptive power.

About FASHIONCLASH

FASHIONCLASH was founded in Maastricht in 2009 as an innovative and interdisciplinary fashion platform and a worldwide network for emerging designers and artists.