An exploration into our own family heritage often begins the first time we are asked to draw our family tree at school. As we see the intricate branches expand under the weight of generations, only then do we start to sense that there is a history to our family that we haven’t yet learned.
Designer Stefanie Nieuwenhuyse chose to use fashion as the vehicle to represent the fascinating story of her family’s heritage. Her latest collection aims to explore the regional traditions of the Dutch province of Zeeland, from which her ancestors hail. Attempting to symbolise a fusion of tradition and post-modernism, Stefanie used a combination of handcrafted techniques, such as macrame, with the more contemporary method of laser cutting. The resulting range of masks, headpieces, belts, and garments are, at times, reminiscent of armour, which is also reflected in the collection’s name, Luctor et Emergo (translated as ‘I struggle and rise’).
As a designer, Stefanie is known for her use of laser cutting to create garments for her fashion collections. In 2011, she used discarded plywood scraps – sourced through a bio-waste firm – which she laser cut into forms that resembled reptile-like scales. Layering them onto garments, Stefanie devised a collection complete with trousers, corsets, floor-length evening gowns and neckpieces. The plywood concept was initially inspired after Stefanie discovered a pile of discarded woodchips, shaped like diamonds, on the floor of a student workshop at her university in London.