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Published by Lisa Nederveen on 2-May-2013 Conversations, Fashion
Tags: mode biennale, fetishism, lidewij edelkoort, arnhem

Every other year, the Dutch town Arnhem depicts a view on the contemporary fashion culture with a ‘Mode Biennale’ (MoBA). This year’s edition will be themed ‘Fetishism in fashion’ and is composed by the infamous trend forecaster Lidewij Edelkoort. An impressive collection of upcoming designers and exhibitors from all over the world were gathered to create shows and exhibitions. Together with co-curator Philip Fimmano and assistant Willem Schenk, Lidewij Edelkoort spent the last year on creating and organizing the big event, which will take place from June 9th until July 21st. I interviewed the Paris based trend forecaster on what to expect from the upcoming MoBA.

How did Fetishism turn out to be the theme that you associate most with the contemporary fashion world? Hasn’t Fetishism always been a part of fashion?

“In researching the biennale's subject matter, I've discovered just how much fetishism can be traced back to our primal and instinctive past, so, in essence, fetishism has been with us for centuries. My research unveiled the most outlandish and creative expressions of clothing, uncovering new and outsider talent from the four corners of the globe. Fetishism in fashion ranges from our fundamental need to cover ourselves to the eccentric extremes to which our desires can take us on the quest for beauty; whether it be the intimate links that exist between a garment and ourselves, the passion that a pair of shoes can generate, the elation the tactility of textiles can bring, or our profound relationship with a particular designer.”

Do you think the controversial aspect of the theme will contribute to a higher curiosity among potential visitors?

“It's true that the public may be intrigued by their preconceived ideas about fetishism, yet the main exhibit will explore thirteen different kinds of fetishes to open their minds to many more possibilities. The fetish concept is a rich and vast domain that has the power to encapsulate many of the contemporary movements in fashion. The kinds of creative clothing that we have found even exceeded my own initial expectations and we have realized that this movement is much bigger than we thought.”

How do you think that the aspect of fetishism in fashion will develop the next few years?

“What's exciting about MoBA 13 is that we will see how the instinctive, almost shamanistic form of fetishism will merge with the sexually-charged side of fetishism. That cross-over area is where I think we will go next. This century will be all about the blending of opposite energies, and the joining of the sexual with the spiritual will become an important current.”

The Mode Biennale always aims to draw a large, varied audience. How are the different exhibitions, shows and performances designed to draw the attention of a bigger audience?

“The fetish idea is going to draw all kinds of people, ranging from a general audience to academics and all sorts of sub-culture groups. Lola Pagola's ELEVATION exhibition about ever-higher shoes is going to be a particular favourite for the female visitors and sensual men interested in the fantastic design fetishism in footwear. Our love for burlesque will be brought out by Introdans in their BURLESK/CLOWNESK dance performances in early June. Young people will flock to see HURRAY! in the Marienburg building to connect with the fresh creative currents in European fashion schools today. Film buffs will be bewildered by the exciting programme being developed by Diane Pernet at the ASVOFF film festival on July 6 and 7. Those interested in more haughty dress codes and historical inspirations will be fascinated by the FASCINATION menswear show, curated by RAVAGE at the Zypendaal castle, as well as the Secret of the Apron exhibit at MoBA CENTRAAL. A funky crowd will be entertained by The People of the Labyrinths in their dynamic (MAKE) BELIEVE installation at the Eusebius church.”

How did you experience the collaboration with Philip Fimmano and Willem Schenk while organizing the Mode Biennale?

“This summer will be the ten year anniversary that I have been making exhibitions with Philip, and so for us personally, this project has become a mature project, albeit full of new challenges. We could not have done any of it without the support of Willem who has been researching and securing fashions from all over the planet, which is a painstaking and time-consuming process! Despite the intensity of such a big project, we have tried to enjoy the creative process as much as possible and have even buried ourselves in work in secluded places such as India and Morocco.”

Can you tell me something about the international aspect of this year’s Mode Biennale?

“What's really intriguing about this year's biennale is that the fashions on show are not necessarily by brands; they come from some familiar icons in the fashion world, but mainly they have been gathered from independent studios all over the planet. This includes amazing pieces from designers like Susanne Bisovsky (Austria), Barbara i Gongini (Denmark), Renáta Gyöngyösi (Hungary), Juun J (Korea), Deniz Kaprol (Turkey), Katarzyna Konieczka (Poland), Asher Levine (United States), Peter Movrin (Slovenia), Tex Saverio (Indonesia), Little Shilpa (India) and Yiqing Yin (China).”

Do you consider Arnhem a fashion city?

“Of course! I'm familiar with the city since my days studying at the Art Academy when it was a modernist setting, a place in which to discover new and exciting ideas with my fellow students. We went to London and Paris to discover hip style and brought it back with us. ArtEZ is still very much at the forefront of this creative energy and it gives Arnhem a fashion layer that no other Dutch town can claim.”

Can you already tell us something about the exposed designers/artists?

“We're very excited to be presenting important archive pieces from fashion references such as Manish Arora, Walter van Beirendonck, Damir Doma, Jean Paul Gaultier, Craig Green, Iris van Herpen, Pam Hogg, Bas Kosters, Gareth Pugh, Maison Martin Margiela, Moschino, Rick Owens, Kosuke Tsumara and Undercover. In addition to the clothes, there will be amazing imagery and videos throughout all of the exhibitions.”

For more information on MoBA ’13, visit:

Lisa Nederveen studied Journalism in Amsterdam and is currently based in London as a freelance journalist.
Photography by Marcel Van Der Vlugt

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