Best known for its excellent collection of Dutch painters like Rembrandt or Vermeer, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam presented in 2016 for the first time a large selection of its diverse fashion collection in an exhibition arranged by the well-known Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf.
A look back: “Catwalk” exhibition at the Rijksmuseum
All photos taken by Mylène Voncken / My Image at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and edited by Ronkar Creative Studio. Photo 1, 15 and 16 shows work (“Catwalk I”) by © Erwin Olaf. Photo 2 shows work (“Concealed Treasures VI”) by © Erwin Olaf.
In the six rooms of the Philips Wing, the exhibition showed Dutch fashion from the Golden Age (1625 to 1960) to French silk and Empire classics culminating in 20th century French haute couture by Dior and Yves Saint Laurent.
The higlhights of the exhibition included, among others: A unique pair of underpants belonging to Hendrik Casimir I, Count of Nassau Dietz (1612-1640). The widest dress in the Netherlands: Helena Slicher’s (1737-1776) wedding gown or mantua, which she supposedly wore at her marriage to Aelbrecht baron van Slingelandt (1732-1801) on 4 September 1759. An exceptionally precious and fragile dress of blonde silk bobbin lace (1815-1820). A silk taffeta cocktail dress by Cristóbal Balenciaga (1951-1952).
Apart from these highlights, an eye-catcher was the original presentation of various dresses from the 19th and 20th centuries in the largest hall of the exhibition. A treadmill was installed on which the dolls passed by like on a catwalk. Visitors could take place on the rows of seats next to them and feel like in the front row of a fashion show.
Erwin Olaf’s installation was like a ghostly masquerade ball. Baroque ladies’ robes and men’s suits were composed on podiums to form impressive groups. Thus, the fine fabrics, subtle cuts and elaborate decorations could be admired at close range and in peace.
One of Erwin Olaf’s own contributions was a fascinating portrait, which shows model Ymre Stiekema with one of the most striking objects in the exhibition. She is wearing the wedding dress by Helena Slicher. The beautiful silk dress is embroidered with colorful flowers, which reflected themselves in the wallpaper on the wall. Interesting detail: Because of its fragility, the model did not actually wear the precious dress from the 18th-century in this photograph – it was later digitally incorporated into the photo.
The great work of the restoration workshop of the Rijksmuseum was impressive. Centuries-old dresses looked like new. Thus, the exhibition with its 10,000 beautifully restored dresses impressively documented the change of fashions from the 17th to the 20th century and was therefore a must for every fashion friend.
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