Dutch-Belgian designer Maaike van den Abbeele’s fashion passion started from a young age from which she grew her talent to the high and growing level of today. She is greatly experienced in designing prints and embroidery with a variety of mostly classic materials like silk. Furthermore she is inspired by and occupied with fabric design, fashion accessories and art works like ceramics, artistic video and imagery. Recently Japan has made a big impact on her and her creations in a very positive way.
She presented her work at Mercedes-Benz FashionWeek Amsterdam where she will be present with her new collection this summer.
Considering my background in fashion, studies in The Netherlands and regular visits to Belgium, I was excited interviewing Maaike and hope you enjoy reading it.
Where and when did you first develop your passion for fashion and what triggered it?
Well, I designed my first pieces when I was about twelve years old. I am Catholic, so when I had my confession of faith I designed my entire outfit. I handpicked the fabrics and consulted a seamstress. She turned the drafts of my outfit into reality. This triggered my decision to study fashion in High School and later on at College.
Besides your recent interests in Japanese fashion, are Belgium and possibly Dutch influences incorporated in your design philosophy?
Off course, I am partly Dutch and partly Belgian, which caused my interest in the historical costumes of these countries. To be exact, I am currently working on a new collection which is influenced greatly by Dutch and Belgian artwork of the Golden Age (Medieval). This collection will be presented at the Amsterdam Fashion Week upcoming summer.
Are you interested in and do you practice other creative subjects besides fashion? If so, can you elaborate a bit on it for us?
Absolutely, I have a thing for all kinds of fashion accessories and I am inspired by different kinds of artwork. For instance, I love ceramics and I am hoping to learn how to create these artworks myself in the future. I am also considering working together with ceramic artists in the future. Recently I was also drawn to artistic videos. I contacted a video artist and will be using images of her work as an inspiration for fabric design. I would love to broaden my artistic work outside fashion in the future.
Where did your fascination with the Japanese culture come from and do you have other international interests and ambitions?
When I was a teenager, I developed an interest in “Anime”, which is a type of Japanese animation. The colors and style drew my attention and lead me to read even more about Japanese culture. I just knew I wanted to discover this great country, which I did for the first time in the summer of 2014. This trip ultimately inspired me to use Japanese culture and style to create a collection of my own. I really wanted to share my interpretations and experiences of Japan. Off course I am also triggered by other cultures. If possible, I would travel the world as much as possible to enhance my inspiration of other cultures.
How do religion, philosophy, politics, technology, popular culture and other such topics impact you and your creative work?
I think it is safe to say these subject indeed have an impact. For example, a few years ago I made a collection based on Buddhism. Especially the process to enlightenment was the driving force behind my inspiration. Also new technologies are very interesting to me. Moreover, a lot of new fabrics are the product of technology. I also like to try out new things. For instance, I like to incorporate lighting in certain types of designs. On a bigger scale, it speaks for itself that I am interested in different types of religion, new technologies and popular culture. I also keep myself up to date politically. A lot of current events have an emotional impact on me, which evidently translates itself into my designs. This way, I use fashion as a way to express myself and empower other people.
This is without a doubt the presentation of my collection at Fashion Week Amsterdam in January 2017. This provided me with the unique opportunity to work with different types of artist. I got the chance to work with make-up artists, video artists, fashion photographers and a lot of other professionals. This provided me with a cocktail of inspiration. All these new contacts really opened up my network. In the future I will hopefully have the chance to work with a few of them.
What can we expect from you this coming year and where do you aspire to be professionally, 5 years from now?
Upcoming summer, I will be presenting my new collection at Amsterdam Fashion Week. In the fall, I will be busy designing a new collection of kimonos in collaboration with a young Japanese video artist. Besides that, I will be focusing on selling pieces of my last collection (of Amsterdam Fashion Week) and the creation of small reproductions of these pieces.
What were the ideas and creative motivation behind your latest collection and can you highlight your favorite piece from it?
I was specifically inspired by the Japanese Night life in contrast with the life daily school- and work life. The first one is featured by a lot of different colors and lights, the latter by patterns and classical elements. I incorporated the contradictions of the two in my collection. I suppose my favorite piece is the bomber jacket, because of the link with Japanese youngsters. It also looks comfy, but it required hours of embroidery.
How do your private and professional life balance out and interact?
They are completely connected. I have great joy in my work, which almost makes it feel as if I’m never working. In reality, I am off course constantly creating new designs. As a starting designer it is rather difficult to combine my work with friends and family. Off course creating a collections takes a lot of time and passion, but I try to make enough time for my friends and family, since they are really important to me. Although I use my time quite efficiently, I wish there were more than 24 hours in a day.
Is there anything we forgot to ask you, which you are eager to share with us?
I would like to add that I have lots of plans for future fashion. There is a lot more where that came from. Keep following my work on my website/Instagram/facebook and be amazed!