"When I walk through the streets or leaf through newspapers: I see prints everywhere."
No sooner had Liselore Frowijn graduated cum laude from the ArtEZ in Arnhem than she won the Frans Molenaar prize for her graduation collection Afternoon of a Replicant (2013). She was soon designing prints for the Dutch batik manufacturer Vlisco and the Italian textile company Mantero Seta. In 2014 she won the Chloé award at the prestigious fashion festival in Hyères (2014). She used the prize money and extra sponsorship to create two collections, Fracture Space and No.3 Formania, the latter of which she presented in Paris at the beginning of this year. And now she has her own label called Liselore Frowijn. She seems unstoppable. Who is this 24-year-old fashion-icon-in-the-making?
She has recently moved to a new studio in the centre of Amsterdam, on the Singel. It’s a high, white space, still relatively empty and without Wi-Fi. But there are lots of long worktables, a diagonally installed IKEA Kallax cabinet filled with art books and a large mood board full of images. Your eye wanders from ‘Hell’ by Hieronymus Bosch, via glacial landscapes, singer Taylor Swift, a molten zebra crossing and blood-red pointillist coral – ‘I’m not sure I really wanted to hang that up’ – to a hockey star wrapped in the Dutch flag. ‘Beautiful, huh? No idea who he is. But those primary colours: I often use them in my work. Wonderfully vivid.’
An Eye for prints
Frowijn’s collections are like her mood board: explosions of eclecticism and colour. But the assembled clippings have something in common that is perhaps less immediately obvious: for Frowijn each image is a print. Like beauty, prints are ‘in the eye of the beholder’. And Frowijn sees prints in everything. ‘When I walk through the streets or leaf through newspapers – I’m assaulted by them!’ Prints are her forte. It was her prints that got her noticed and that secured her work with Vlisco and Mantero.
Prints and the materials they are printed on are the starting point for each garment. They are given free rein in Frowijn’s voluminous tunics, parkas and dresses. Her models often wear one jacket over another and are more likely to sport wide trousers than pencil skirts.
Prints are more interesting than silhouettes.”
Multi-coloured stripes, checks and blocks of colour: welcome to the universe of Liselore Frowijn.
Long before Frowijn has designed a garment she has already decided upon the fabric and the print. And she prefers to make them herself. How? Frowijn: ‘In my case by drawing and painting on fabrics’. Frowijn installed a capsule collection of her work in the Temporary Fashion Museum including an orange lycra bodysuit with a jarring pattern drawn with permanent markers. ‘But I also screen print fabrics, I paint silk with textile paints, I crotchet, knit and embroider.’ A jacket in the display seemed to have been the victim of a graffiti bomb and a silk skirt was skilfully embroidered and covered with sparkling sequins resembling fish scales. ‘I also like to cut patterns from plastic sheets or silk and apply them to other fabrics.’ Frowijn’s most recent designs have been very geometric.
Just as she builds up her materials layer by layer, the same is true of her individual outfits, which she calls ‘collages’. This creates curious oppositions in Frowijn’s clothes. ‘I like to use beautiful materials such as silk.’ It combines luxury and comfort. It looks as wearable as a Japanese kimono or an Indian salwar kameez. But her collage outfits might also include cat suits, knitted dresses and double jackets: they look boiling hot. Frowijn: ‘Yes, I saw the early work as a way of establishing a recognisable signature. Now my collections are becoming more wearable and saleable.’ And that’s essential now that the Liselore Frowijn label is in the shops: a long-cherished dream, in the footsteps of Dries van Noten. ‘But it takes a few seasons before you realise the development.’
Aside from the issue of physical comfort, a Frowijn outfit transforms you into a bird of paradise. ‘Ha ha, yes, whether or not you feel comfortable in a Frowijn is another matter. But I think women feel beautiful in my clothes: self-assured, powerful or just relaxed. It adds something to their state of mind.’ What then?
‘Optimism? You don’t have to delude yourself but you certainly shouldn’t forget to dream a little. And it gives you energy to face up to doing the things you were putting off.’
A Frowijn is not for lazing around or watching movies on the sofa. ‘No, it’s more like a kick up the backside.’ Do you need that yourself? ‘Well, I certainly have days when I just can’t be bothered. I prefer the days when I’m really productive. I really enjoy it when I can make the most of a day. That’s the feeling I want to give people with my clothes.’