What does fashion mean to you?

Freedom. Creation. Love.

My goal is to take people on a journey when they come to my shows. It is about lifting them up, and taking them with me on the journey that I went on. Instead of just presenting them with the conclusions, which are the collections, I want people to feel it themselves, taste it, and live it. This is the context I want people to see my collections in. I will always want to push myself further, by questioning, feeling, and by coming closer to the truth of balancing the conceptual with wear ability. I will keep telling stories. But bottom line is: I want to empower women and enhance their beauty.

What was the first article of clothing you ever designed?
Recently, when I was going through some old boxes in my parents home, I found some old drawings of what must have been my first designs, which was my favourite thing to do in the whole world. They where mostly models of dresses and I was 5 years old at the time. Which sounds about right because I started making my first dresses at around 7, with the help of my grandmother. Then I would paint the prints on them with my own hands. Those are my first memories of what was ‘fashion’ for me.

What are your favorite fabrics to work with?
I love natural products like silks, and wools, but love to combine them with unconventional materials as well, like woods, oxidised copper and antique mirror glass, like I ‘ve done in my previous collections.

What are your accomplishments as a designer?
I am where I am now because of my own endurance and perseference. Life can be beautifull and it can be really hard and difficult. It is a matter of pushing through even in or after those difficult times. That is the only way to get to your dreams, what ever they may be. And I am the person I am because of the contstant support and trust of my Mother.

What conveys Style?
Style to me is inspiration and ever-changing, and both of those things are everywhere around you constantly. You just have to look around all the time. My personal quote to go by is ‘Don’t get intimidated, get inspired’. I must add that I have great respect for Raf Simons & Haider Ackermann.

What Amsterdam feels fashion wise?
People are free to wear and look however they want to. That’s what I love about Amsterdam: freedom and nobody will look twice at something different.

“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable , to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.” – Criss Jami

Designer Esther Dorhout Mees shows with her seventh collection ‘Passage’, a wardrobe for women who show their strength through their vulnerability. The collection consists of powerful designer pieces made ​​from organic forms that contrast sharply with hard contours. The collection is inspired by the living material wood. How you can tell if it has had a good or a bad year by the annual rings of a tree. A bad year is a delicate moment. A fragile and difficult period , but when the tree grows through it, it becomes part of the core of the trunk and gives it power from within. The parallel with our human life is the underlying inspiration. Dorhout Mees merges apparent contradictions in a perfect symbiosis. Smooth and shiny fabrics are gracefully combined with rough textures. Even the cracks in wood are reflected in cracks in the pattern pieces. The clean, straight lines of pants and tops contrast the voluminous folds and flowing dresses. In the knitwear we see this vulnerability and strength woven into each piece. When it grows from very transparent, to thick cocoon -like structures reminiscent of the knots in ancient trunks. The prints developed in this collection consist of subtle patterns of bursting veins that vulnerability and strength of wood. Dorhout Mees developed this collection 3D printed shoes. The shoes are designed as portable broken pieces of wood . Unique in color and texture, just as in nature. The handmade accessories have a real wood finish. Oversized belts, bracelets and clutches fitted with broken pieces of wood complete the collection.

Pictures courtesy of DORHOUT MEES. Photo of Esther Dorhout Mees by Peter Stigter.