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On Thursday 3 December 2015 Jan Taminiau spoke about his fascinations, his inspirations and his great love of craftsmanship. Presenter Andrea van der Pol questioned him about his youth, his education and his development as a fashion designer and couturier.

Taminiau, whose clients include Queen Maxima, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé, explained how he likes to retreat within the safe bubble of his studio in Baambrugge. The seeds of his current practice were sown in his grandmother’s antiques shop, where he was allowed to play with discarded items in the attic. That was his treasure trove. It came as a shock when he realised that all those beautiful things had been put there because they had been rendered worthless through damage. The mailbag suit with which he later became famous stemmed from this experience. The material has lived and bears traces of its usage: elements that Taminiau used to invest the garment with value.

He chose haute couture because he likes to make things himself and enjoys the direct exchange with the client. With ready-to-wear the designer imposes his ideas on his customers but with haute couture the designer looks at the person in front of him and asks how he can best do justice to them.

He spoke briefly about the coronation dress. He was unable to say much about it except that it was very exciting and had to be made at very short notice. Talking about the design, Taminiau explained that he chose an angular silhouette to contrast with the rounded forms of the king’s coronation cloak. This complemented the contrast between the king’s mother and grandmother and their uniformed husbands.

Taminiau employs seven or eight people at his studio. However, his embroidered dresses are worked on by between forty and eighty people in specialised studios in Paris and in India. Taminiau describes it as a unique process: ‘You have to ensure that everyone works as an organic whole – even though they’re in different places – to produced the same quality of work that comes together in a single dress.’ An embroidered dress weighs around seven kilos – a considerable weight – most of which is supported by the hips. This is made possible by the invisible, yet essential, internal structure.

Taminiau trained in Paris in order to master the various techniques of haute couture. During his talk, he emphasised several times how important it is to acquire these skills, to know precisely how things work. Only then can you develop the craft as a designer, play with it and adapt it to new developments and insights. The craftsman or craftswoman zooms in and is very skilful in certain techniques, but often sticks to tradition. The designer wants to progress, to try out new things. Only by knowing the techniques can you intervene in the production and push the craft further. ‘Their work inspires me to take the next step.’ Taminiau is convinced that this level of craftsmanship has a future, but only if the traditional techniques are learned, cherished and passed on.

Report by Lotte Haagsma

Jan Taminiau

Fashion designer Jan Taminiau first achieved widespread recognition in 2008 with his Mailbag collection. His work is characterised by wearable elegance with a conceptual undertone. His studio is like a laboratory, where he experiments with half-forgotten crafts and original fabrics. The heart of his label JANTAMINIAU is the haute couture collection, which he translates into a wearable line. His clients include many celebrities, such as Queen Maxima, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé. He has designed costumes for the film The Hunger Games and the play Gone With the Wind. His work can be found in several Dutch museum collections. In 2014 Taminiau received the Grand Seigneur, the Dutch fashion world’s highest honour. 

Andrea van Pol

Editor and presenter Andrea van Pol is known for AVRO's Kunstuur and De Slag om Nederland. She is closely involved in the Dutch fashion scene and is a familiar face at fashion week. She acts as a presenter and moderator for events throughout the country.

20:00 – 22:00

Het Nieuwe Instituut
Museumpark 25
3015 CB Rotterdam

Temporary Fashion Museum
Guus Beumer
Maureen Mooren

This project is part of the programme track Things and Materials and the folder Material innovation.

Fashion has quietly renewed the very idea of renewal by constantly selling the past as a future, thereby framing current reality. This contrasts sharply with the idea that renewal always stems from technological innovation.