“We are living through emotionally charged and surreal times,” Botter designers Lisi Herrebrugh and Rushemy Botter said in the notes for their coed fall collection, acknowledging the ambivalence of forging ahead with fashion shows against the backdrop of war on the European continent.
The duo, who have been vocal about issues such as climate change and racism, voiced their support for the people of Ukraine as they fight Russia’s invasion. “If we would be in that situation, we would all want people to speak up,” Herrebrugh said. “We want to bring love and hope and be positive.”
Their collection was a tribute to the culture of the Caribbean’s African-descended populations. With roots in Curaçao on his side, and the Dominican Republic on hers, the pair have steeped their aesthetic in a DIY approach. Case in point: the monoblock plastic chairs, covered in checked wool or faux fur, that some models carried as accessories.
Hair beads made from ocean plastic waste adorned items that included a fringed leather shirt jacket, a polo shirt and a wig that morphed into a beaded top, while suits in tangy shades of pink, turquoise and green — many featuring flaps and slits inspired by diving suits — paid tribute to the explosion of color during carnival.
Amid the joyful lineup, a hand-painted motif on a black coat stood out. The drawing merged a skull with the logo for petrol company Shell, which for years operated a refinery in Curaçao that locals say caused widespread environmental damage. “It’s a big middle finger to Shell,” said Botter, whose grandparents made their living from fishing.
As the fashion carousel returns to its pre-pandemic frenzy, it was a heartfelt reminder that while designers can provide a welcome distraction from the world’s problems, they can also contribute to fixing them.