The Art of Fashion: Installing Allusions
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen 19 September 2009 / 10 January 2010
This autumn five top international designers will be presenting exclusive work in The Art of Fashion. With this exhibition Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen explores the boundaries of fashion. Fashion shows and advertising campaigns have had their day. Designers use installations, performances and sculptural designs and enter the area of fine art. In Rotterdam the sparks that fly at the interface between fashion and art will be revealed spectacularly.

At the heart of the exhibition are exclusive new works by five top international designers. The H+F Fashion on the Edge Foundation invited Viktor&Rolf, Naomi Filmer, Hussein Chalayan, Anna-Nicole Ziesche and Walter Van Beirendonck to make brand new pieces for this exhibition. The designers abandon the principle of a wearable collection and seek out the boundaries of fashion. The works will be unveiled at the opening of the exhibition on 19 September 2009.

Viktor & Rolf are masters in conjuring up complex, imaginary worlds. In their project Alternative No. 1 they subject the codes of worlds like these to close scrutiny. The perfume that they create is built up from unexpected elements. The fairy tale in which we are all too pleased to be a part is disturbed by an aroma, a bottle and a campaign that summon up more nasty experiences.

Walter Van Beirendonck also creates an ingenious fantasy world, inspired by comic strips and graphic motifs. He presents a six metre high temple for his own wooden sarcophagus (The Sequel) as it will be found three hundred years after his death. He uses this to consider rituals and the meaning of life.

Ignored spaces
Jewellery designer Naomi Filmer is interested in ignored spaces and wonders how the body relates to its environment. For the Breathing Volumes project she investigates the space under the chin. The result is not jewellery but a sculpture that enters into a direct relationship with the observer.

Being observed
Hussein Chalayan regards his work as a way to tell stories. He places a spinning mannequin in an aquarium surrounded by the elements of water, earth and air (Micro Geography: a Cross Section). Cameras film the mannequin’s every movement and these images can be seen on huge screens. The installation is about the importance of performance in fashion, about observing and being observed.

Anna-Nicole Ziesche uses fashion in her work as a pathway to memories. Her room as a child and the jumpers she knitted herself in the 1980s play a large role in the Childhood Memories project. The clothes give rise to a personal history that can be universally experienced.

Accompanying the five new designs at The Art of Fashion exhibition are works by twenty-five international artists and fashion designers. The result is a spectacular visual experience that shows how the principles of fashion automatically lead to other areas. Patterns and the shapes of clothes become sculptures, a fashion show is transformed into a performance and the imaginary world that fashion conjures up is the same as we see in art.

The Art of Fashion has been compiled by guest curators José Teunissen (lecturer at ArtEZ Arnhem) and Judith Clark (exhibition maker, London). The exhibition was made possible by the H+F Fashion on the Edge programme of author and art collector Han Nefkens, and by the Mondriaan Foundation, SNS Reaal Fonds and the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds. The Dutch edition of ELLE celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year and is our media partner. The exhibition is a major part of the official programme of Holland Art Cities 2009-2010.

The ArtAids foundation was set up in 2006 at Han Nefkens’ initiative. ArtAids fights AIDS with the power of art as its most important weapon. ArtAids invites leading artists to produce work that is inspired by AIDS and related problems. These works of art are used to raise the public’s consciousness and to encourage their involvement.

Fundació Han Nefkens

The Han Nefkens Foundation is a private non-profit organisation that was set up in Barcelona in 2009 with the aim of promoting the production of contemporary artworks. The mission is to stimulate artistic creation in Barcelona by offering international artists an opportunity to create artworks and interventions in the city, and to promote other fields of contemporary creation.


Han Nefkens started to collect art in 2000. The H+F Collection, named after himself and his partner Felipe, is in long-term loan to various museums in The Netherlands and abroad. Nowadays Han Nefkens is not only active as a collector but also as an initiator of international art projects, often in collaboration with museums and other art institutions.