Salon/1 aims to promote Dutch fashion, design and art at various Amsterdam locations from July 15-18th. Featuring select contributors from across the creative industries, the event offers an unprecedented reflection of Holland’s artistic and cultural enlightenment. The masterminds behind the event, Gijs Stork, Cathal McKee and Manon Schaap, reflect an additional range of creative expression: Stork is an art historian, founder of Magazyn, a non-profit space for art, design and fashion in Amsterdam, and the publisher behind Artimo; McKee is the founder and owner of branding agency CMK1 and the creative director of Philips Design; and creative director Schaap has worked on identity and product strategy for le Bon Marche, Jil Sander, Yves Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney and View on Colour, Bloom and Provider magazines. Ahead of Salon/1′s kick-off later this week (and a livestream of the opening in Amsterdam on July 14th), we chatted with Schaap about Dutch fashion, Salon/1′s goals, and why Amsterdam is now a must for any fashion week circuit.
JC Report: What was the impetus for Salon 1?
Manon Schaap: We started Salon/1 out of passion and frustration. Passion because we love fashion and all related disciplines, because we love the start of the creative process, because we like the way creative people think and we would like to share this thinking. Frustration because in Holland we talk a lot about fashion but what we do show in our own country/city is only common for the market—it’s seen as commercial success—yet there are many great fashion designers who the public hardly knows. With Salon/1, we wanted to offer a platform for people from fashion, design, perfume and art to show people the beginning of the creative process, to show what makes a designer tick, to generate a different thinking, to create an understanding about the concept of fashion.
JCR: Who are some of the Dutch figures you think have been overlooked?
MS: There are great designers who show and sell their work abroad (Klavers van Engelen, Marcha Huskes, Ronald van der Kemp, Gem Kingdom) and great designers working for other labels (Lucas Ossendrijver for Lanvin/Men, Paul Helbers for Louis Vuitton/Men). The magazines Fantastic Man and The Gentlewoman are made by Jop van Bennekom and Gert Jonkers, who are acclaimed publishers with an international following as well as platforms to present themselves in major cities, but hardly anybody in and outside the fashion world in Holland knows that these magazines are made by two Dutch guys. And there’s Maurice Scheltens and Liesbeth Abbenes, who are shooting campaigns for Hermès.
JCR: Why is this timely now?
MS: After the non-stop complaining of people at fashion shows and presentations in Holland, we felt the urge to generate this new élan—and the idea of Salon/1 was born! We chose Amsterdam Fashion Week because, for us, the catwalk is almost the end of the creative process and we want to show the start of the creative process, to make people think. During Amsterdam Fashion Week, we can generate a fertilization between different disciplines and different facets of the fashion industry and its reflection. Salon/1 is a personal initiative without any funding from the Dutch ministry and without sponsoring until now, but it has been creating an enormous buzz through social networks and through great articles in the press (even before anything is shown). The city of Amsterdam got notice of Salon/1 We do promote fashion and design, but also the total city of Amsterdam as the designers show their work and express their ways of thinking in several great places throughout the city center.
JCR: What makes Dutch design distinctive, in your estimation?
MS: For us, design is not a product—it is a way of thinking, a certain way to reflect on fashion and culture. We tend to start with a concept and not necessarily with an outcome. It is distinctive while it is individual, and ever so personal. Creative Dutch minds have made an indelible mark in the global fashion world, but it has nothing to do with just one discipline and everything to do with connectivity, networking and team playing, pushing boundaries in between the disciplines.
JCR: Besides Salon/1, what other initiatives are there in the Netherlands that attempt to cultivate local talent?
MS: Holland is known abroad for its subventions to designers, artist and others. There are a lot of initiatives to cultivate the Dutch design community, to help designers to establish their labels or show them abroad during cultural events and others.
JCR: What can we expect for the future?
MS: From now on, Amsterdam Fashion week will be worth visiting for international buyers, press and everybody who is interested in fashion & culture because we offer food for thought. Salon/1 is not a showroom, we do not push people to buy, nor is it an exhibition space, we don’t want people just to look—we want people to participate and to get inspired. Salon/1 will be food for thought and the way to go for the future. It is about connection and sharing, about creating a different vision on fashion.
This interview was conducted by Robert Cordero