Ronald van der Kemp
Clip from Ronald van der Kemp Couture presentation

“Working with constraints feeds my creativity” was Ronald van der Kemp‘s response when asked about his recent couture collection and this past year. The Dutch designer who has worked with upcycled materials for his collections since 2014 debuted his Fall 2021 Couture collection on July 6 at Hôtel D’Avaray in Paris.

Before sustainability and upcycled were buzzwords in the industry, there was Ronald van der Kemp. As the first designer to introduce upcycled garments, Van der Kemp’s stunning and glamorous designs have always sat parallel to his vision of a more sustainable fashion industry. His newest upcycle collection follows the DNA of the brand with one hundred percent upcycled materials: fabric from previous seasons, archival fabrics, and factory waste.

The couturier entitled the collection The Mind Vaccine, envisioning a post-pandemic world where people remember to “do things responsibly and with more attention” as they return back to their lives of shopping and consumption. The oh-so camp collection (a signature of van der Kemp) breathes new life into discarded textiles with punk and edgy influence. The standout of the collection is a large jacket that resembles a fur coat (no animals harmed in the making).

Ahead, GRAZIA caught up with van der Kemp after his couture show to discuss upcycled couture, post-pandemic fashion, and his exciting new venture into CBD Paste.

GRAZIA: What motivated you to introduce upcycled couture?

Ronald van der Kemp: After working for 25 years as a designer and creative director in luxury fashion, I saw the system was spinning out of control. So I had the idea to try to influence the fashion wield from the inside by doing my ethical wardrobes and trying to make sustainability sexy at the highest level; Paris couture.

GRAZIA: How have your collections evolved since then?

RVDK: Every season we learn to make more with less… working with constraints feed my creativity .

GRAZIA: As a pioneer in sustainable fashion, what is your pipe dream for the future?

RVDK: I call it responsible hedonism; The Mind Vaccine. For people to actually feel the need for change to grow from diversity into biodiversity and respect the earth and all that lives on the earth.

GRAZIA: After last year, how do you feel about returning to live shows? Why did you decide to show digitally?

RVDK: It was great to meet people in-person this time and show the clothes up close. Movies are a great storytelling tool but shows are more exciting. It all depends on how I feel as a designer. 

G: What are your thoughts on the post-pandemic return to fashion and the number of collections being produced?

RVDK: I really hoped people would realise in this past period of mindfulness that we all need to focus on buying less… and finally build a wardrobe to underline your personality, clothes that you bond with.

G: Tell us more about your CBD Paste, a unique extension of a line indeed. Why did this seem like the natural next step?

RVDK: It’s my version of a designer perfume; a designer ‘drug’ that is actually harmless and a great help towards mindfulness.

G: What are your aspirations for RVDK down the line?

RVDK: Being the leader of a movement of great exciting ethical fashion.