You don’t need to know about Ronald van der Kemp’s stance on sustainability to enjoy his work, but it certainly gives it added relevance at a time where H&M sits on $4.3 billion worth of unsold inventory.
The Dutch designer’s message remains the same: the only sustainable way forward is by making the most of what’s in front of you. Through this iteration of his upcycled collage of vintage fabric finds and unusual materials, van der Kemp zeroed in on the idea of disposable clothes, opposing the paper dresses of the Sixties to the “disposable clothes on the high street.” “You can make something from leftovers, and you don’t have to know they’re leftovers,” he said, pointing out how he’d machine-washed cardboard until it became pliant enough to be cut to make a pair of achingly cool metallicized trousers.
Looking for a particular theme is moot here, as he draws together his repurposed material in a joyous clash that imparts a perpetual of-the-moment feel. As ever, he remains undaunted at the idea of offering outré pairings, or of being handed materials others may consider subpar.
An unmistakable Eighties flair crossed with a certain Space-Age modernism makes these latest designs smolder. Van der Kemp’s clothes are designed with a good time in mind. That much was clear from the opening sunny yellow bustier sheath, right down to the attitude-filled final tableau.
In between were striking designs: pointy-toed boots with a sculptural heel, the first shoe style by van der Kemp; a pleated skirt whose folds revealed reflective stripes; a puffy white blouson with patent leather detailing cut from Tyvek; a Day-Glo orange hooded coat that would not have looked out of place on Grace Jones, and the streetwear vibe of an oversized suit paired with sneakers from Amsterdam-based footwear label Filling Pieces.
Conscious consumption notwithstanding, who can resist that?