The theme of the 10th edition of FASHIONCLASH Festival was ‘Fashion My Religion!’. Within this framework, we initiated a special project, ‘God is a Woman!?’. For this project, we selected ten designers to create an outfit based on research related to this theme. ‘God is a woman!?’ invited the designers to explore gender roles in religion, examine existing intolerances and question how fashion can play a role to increase inclusiveness in religion: it was a project on social issues and patriarchal systems.
The project was kickstarted in January 2018 by a workshop where the designers were invited to come and listen to two speakers on the topic of gender studies and new feminism, in order to gain inspiration for their project. The first speaker, Mariecke van den Berg, a researcher in the department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Utrecht University, provided a starting point to questioning the representation of God with her speech ‘Conchita, a contemporary Christ figure’. She explored how the 2014 Austrian Eurovision Song Contest winner Conchita Wurst (Tom Neuwirth) with her striking friendly looks, long hair and beard reminded many of the traditional representations of Christ, raising all kinds of questions about the incarnation of God. The second speaker, Nella van den Brandt, also a researcher in Philosophy and Religious Studies at Utrecht University, provided another perspective through her talk ‘Jews and Muslims: Culture, Image, Politics and Fashion’. She explores the role of physical representation and clothing in regards to Jews and Muslim, looking at the topic from different angles such as culture, media, art, politics and fashion. The speech provided the designers with tools to critically reflect on the societal dynamics of religion and fashion.
God is a Woman?! - Exhibition
It was exciting to see how these designers got inspired by the workshop and how they interpreted ‘God is a Woman?!´. Their designs were showcased as an exhibition during the FASHIONCLASH Festival, 15-17 of June 2018 at Centre Céramique in Maastricht.
Meet the participants
< Sander Bos is a recent graduate of the Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts. He focuses on contemporary thinking and innovative design, mixing streetwear and couture. One of his recent collections, DAMES, plays with the idea that ladies are a domesticated form of women.
> Bobbine Berden describes herself as a fashion designer, communicator, pattern-maker and storyteller. A recent graduate of the Utrecht school of the Arts. Through her work, she aims to visualise stories and start discussions, focusing on the current state of the fashion industry.
< Mette Sterre is a recent MA graduate of the London Central Saint Martin’s. Currently based in London/Rotterdam, she is a visual artist and artist, focusing on sculptural costume based performances. She deals with the grotesque, the topsy-turvy and the paradoxical.
> Sarah Lauwaert, currently living in Antwerp (BE) is a fashion graduate from the Royal Academy of the Arts in the Hague. Her graduation project was inspired by climate change and aimed to create garments that would protect our mind and body from environmental catastrophe.
< Boris Kollár is a Slovakian designer and recent graduate of the Gerrit Rietveld Academy. He is interested in the origins of clothes and their details. His work is based on simplicity and respect for the materials. He was also the winner of the Frans Molenaar prize 2017.
> Victoria Ledig & Mandy Roos are two designers and graduates of the Eindhoven Design Academy. They have collaborated on a variety of projects, and use ‘the beautiful, the ugly and the awkward’ as a guideline in their work. They also participated in the FASHIONCLASH festival last year.
< Anouk Beckers, a graduate of the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, has developed a modular system for garments. She bases her system on garments as unfinished products, offering a new perspective on clothing that allows us to express our identity with more fluidity in a constantly changing world.
> Teun Seuren describes himself as a ‘men’s designer’. A graduate of the Utrecht School of the Arts, he focuses on collections with a message, addressing subjects such as gender, homosexuality and vulnerability.
< Sophie Roumans is a menswear designer, graduate from the Utrecht School of the Arts. Her label represents high quality garments and realism, designing wearable garments with no season and a global identity, with a focus on sustainability.
> Steven Vanderyt, a graduate of the Utrecht School of the Arts, sees his mission as keeping to surprise and shock with his approach to fashion and to inspire other to celebrate creativity and freedom. He focuses on timeless pieces without an expiration date.