Just over ten billion Euros a year are spent on clothing in the Netherlands, which does not exactly put the Netherlands at the top of the list in Europe. The Dutch are also known for their nonchalant clothing styles. Dutch bankers in the City of London are notorious for their sturdy brown footwear, and the Dutch seldom wear formal clothing when going out to a restaurant or the theatre. Whatever the occasion, a large number of Dutch people are sure to be wearing jeans,
So it is little short of a miracle that the Netherlands has a small but flourishing fashion culture. This is primarily the result of excellent training courses in fashion as well as the interest of the cultural avant-garde that appreciates being given the opportunity to appear in public wearing unusual Dutch designs. As far as this is concerned, there is a clear distinction between fashion, clothing and couture in the Netherlands. It was primarily the couturiers of the 1950s and 60s who laid the groundwork for the fashion designers of the 1980s and 90s who went on to present themselves in the Netherlands and beyond. Influenced by post-war Parisian couturiers such as Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Chanel, who unleashed a revolution on the streets of the world, Dutch designers Dick Holthaus, Max Heymans, Frank Govers and Frans Molenaar began their own fashion houses. As well as dressing the theatre, film and television stars of their day, they also provided a new quality standard for the production of clothing design, hats and shoes. The first Dutch couturiers cut their teeth as assistants in the couture houses of Paris, but before long Dutch educational institutions adapted and Fashion became an official subject at art academies, such as the academy in Arnhem where Elly Lamaker held sway from 1953 onwards. A number of lively fashion journalists worked for national newspapers and magazines and so laid a foundation of fashion awareness among the general public. Their articles were illustrated with sketches, as photography was not yet permitted at couture shows. In this way Constance Wibaut, Clementine van Lamsweerde (the mother of the photographer), Jeanne Roos and Marte Röling paved the way for the promising fashion talent. The Bijenkorf department store played its own role in this by translating couture into affordable fashion and also extending the concept to interior design, whereby designer Benno Premsela played an important role.
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