European Fashion Heritage Association

Journal EFHA World

Object Voices / DURAN LANTINK: OLD STOCK at Centraal Museum

Dutch fashionfashion exhibitionupcycling

Guest post by Ninke Bloemberg, Fashion Curator at Centraal Museum Utrecht, retracing the motifs and reasons of the 2019 exhibition

In the highstreets, the shop windows are once again displaying the word SALE in large letters: the sales season is in full swing. The endless stream of discount promotions and new phenomena such as Black Friday create extreme scenes with shameless bargain hunters rioting in stores.[1] But are there still times when you can buy an item of clothing without any form of discount? And what actually happens to the unsold garments?

Post Black Friday

Last year, newspapers around the world published shocking articles about the British fashion house Burberry, which had burned more than £90 million worth of its own products over the past five years. This, in order to keep its luxury brand name exclusive by preventing its stock from being sold at lower prices.[2]

And this is just one example of many. But the fashion industry gradually seems to be waking up to the error of its ways. The Dutch designer, artist and stylist Duran Lantink[3] was already dealing with this issue during his studies at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy by ‘upcycling’ existing clothing to create a new collection.

In the meantime, department stores such as Liberty in London are backing his sustainable vision by giving him unsold designer pieces. He incorporated these and other surplus items in his latest collection Straight from the Sale Bins, shown in the installation Post Black Friday at Somerset House in February 2019 (developed with artist Joeri Woudstra) making a bold statement during London Fashion Week. Through a ‘shop-in-shop’, Lantink painted a dreary picture of what was once a luxury shop window. Using his characteristic method, he created new garments by collaging elements from clothes by Dior, Chanel, Fendi and other chic brands. He even creates his own name from the letters of these expensive labels.

The flickering fluorescent light, the graffiti and the broken glass underscored the despondency of the current situation. Lantink’s creations were scattered throughout the boutique. The designer put himself in the spotlight for the prestigious LVMH prize. Bernard Arnault, the man at the helm of the luxury group LVMH, even came to talk to Lantink in person. Exciting, because the designer had cut up and fused garments from competing brands… But Arnault seemed to appreciate Lantink’s message.[5]

I focus on mixed media with fashion and my work usually consists of attracting opposites.’ – Duran Lantink

Old Stock

The London installation was displayed at the Centraal Museum in Utrecht from 12 July to 27 October 2019 in Duran Lantink’s first solo exhibition: Old Stock. The title is inspired by his vision: ‘Creating new clothes from “old stock” is the new chic.’ For this occasion, he took over the museum’s entire attic and enticed visitors into his world and vision. He employed three themes – Old Stock, Post Black Friday and Sistaaz of the Castle – to raise relevant and urgent issues in an aesthetic yet confrontational manner.

Old Stock also refers to the new collection that Lantink made especially for the Centraal Museum from ‘old stock’ from the museum’s storage facilities. Lantink combined these pieces with existing designs by Dutch fashion designers who are represented in the museum’s fashion collection: Klavers van Engelen, Puck & Hans, People of the Labyrinth and Oscar Suleyman. For this occasion, a design by Klavers van Engelen was shown in the gallery with the seventeenth-century doll’s house. Niels Klavers is currently a senior lecturer in fashion at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, the course from which Duran Lantink graduated in 2013.

Lantink placed the five new creations as sparkling elements in a completely black space. Visitors almost tripped up on entering the gallery, which was covered from floor to ceiling with second-hand black garments, sorted by hand at the Salvation Army. The contents of more than sixty rubbish bags were spread over the space, symbolising the enormous overproduction and the ease with which we discard good clothing. All the items were returned after the exhibition so that everything can be re-used.

The adjacent gallery featured a nineteenth-century dress that was undergoing alterations around 1855-60. After all, re-using fabric is not a new phenomenon! [6] A blog about this dress appeared earlier in Dutch on Modemuze.[7] It was now displayed in the gallery for the first time, in the midst of Lantink’s installation Blessed are the Disidentified. The designer employs these ‘morphed’ figures to explore the clothing codes of different social groups: instead of a uniform look, he prefers the ‘undefined’, those who cannot be pigeonholed.

Sistaaz of the Castle

The Sistaaz of the Castle is certainly one of the most remarkable projects. Not for nothing were variants of it displayed in several venues during the summer of 2019, including the Museum of Bags in Amsterdam, which featured an intervention with photographs by Jan Hoek of SistaazHood, a collective of flamboyant transgender sex workers from Cape Town.[8] Lantink and Hoek came into contact with these combative activists in 2016. In close partnership with Lantink, they have created a ‘dream-couture capsule collection’, which Hoek has photographed.[9]

In this way the Sistaaz (also affectionately known as ‘the girls’) were given the opportunity to express their ideals. Parts of their dream collection have found their way to the Centraal Museum, but the ultimate goal is to organise a fashion show in Cape Town, which is easier said than done. However, there is now a publication in which their dreams are beautifully expressed in words and images.[10] In the gallery, Lantink briefly gave visitors an insight into their world and showed their strength, imagination and fighting spirit.

In short, the exhibition Duran Lantink: Old Stock opened visitors’ eyes. And we haven’t even talked about the pink trousers that made Lantink world-famous: the iconic vagina pants that pop star Janelle Monáe wore in her PYNK video, which quickly amassed over three million views in no time. In the meantime, the trousers have been acquired by the Centraal Museum.[11]

In other words: keep a close eye on this talented designer!