Founded in 2014, Ronald van der Kemp (RDVK) is the world’s first sustainable couture fashion house, ethically crafted with high-end existing materials and leftovers from fashion’s notoriously untenable past. Like so many other designers, van der Kemp had planned to show his Fall/Winter 20/21 Couture Collection (or wardrobe, as he refers) in Paris, but the global health pandemic signalled the week’s closure forcing designers, van der Kemp included, to get creative.
With roots in the phrase “reduce, reuse and recycle” van der Kemp opted to reimagine his existing pieces into 27 re-styled gender neutral looks. The result was a theatrical, over-the-top and decidedly Camp, but also proof that, as Kemp so eloquently put it, “you don’t always need new things to keep it interesting.”
Accompanying the zany fashion was beauty so bold and graphic it would have felt very much at home in the height of the ’80s. Bowie-esque lids, lucid shapes and clashing colour palettes were the look du jour. There was an impossibly high Greta Garbo brow, Kabuki-like white powdered skin, fantastical rainbow face paint and wild, uncontrollable curls. It was a notch higher than van der Kemp’s previous couture showing (where Grace Jones was the muse), taking a high stakes approach to colour, shape and pigment, where the rules, quite simply, didn’t apply.
RVDK opted to show this collection via eight short films shot in a deserted hotel in central Amsterdam in the last week of April – a time where creativity was all but put on hold. Not one to do things by the book, van der Kemp pushed on, eventuating in one of the most interesting sartorial displays we’ve seen thus far.
According to Kemp via WWD, this season proved more pertinent than ever when it came to communicating his sustainable message: “We see that the skies are clearer, nature blooms and even wild animals come out. The constraints of these times fuel our imagination, forcing us to reimagine the future, making us all aware of our destructive relationship with the planet.”
Overall, it equated to everything one hopes a digital version of couture week to be: bold, awe-inspiring and the perfect form of escapism.