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Successful theatrical performance from Barbara Langendijk and Noon Passama

Fashion designer and jewellery designer make for a strong team

In the darkened Machinegebouw on the Westergasterrein, BARBARA feat. Noon Passama opened the Friday programme of Mercedes-Benz FashionWeek Amsterdam with a mysterious, many-layered show.

"The role of the audience will be different than it is at your average fashion show. I like playing with the fashion system's clichés and audience expectations." Fashion designer Barbara Langendijk made that announcement about her latest fashion show a few weeks ago, and what then sounded vague was today made perfectly clear. In a completely darkened Machinegebouw, barriers were arranged to form a kind of hexagon, encircling the audience. Behind the fences – in the dark – stood six models draped in black-and-white ensembles. Then a single spotlight blazed forth, trained on one of the models. A voice sounded through the space:

“There. The flock has settled. Letting go of the day outside, shifting slowly, nudging each other, remembering that they have been here before. This is familiar. This is safe. They breathe, murmur, they’re being friendly and at ease. Patiently waiting for what will be shown to them next. They will gobble it up. They’re hungry for it.”

Shepherds and sheep

To understand this setting, it's important to know that the collaboration between Langendijk and jewellery designer Passama was inspired by shepherds and the 'smock frocks' those tough men used to wear. And that's easy to see in the gorgeous designs, unusually shaped pieces made of technical materials that Passama's jewellery gives form to or embellishes. But the shepherding inspiration is also evident in the show. The audience moved from one side of the hexagon to the other, like a driven herd, towards whichever model was illuminated by the spotlight. It's a critical yet still comical commentary on the fashion world, where people follow after one another like sheep in a herd – or is it chickens with their heads cut off?

Balance

In addition to that deeper layer, which perhaps wasn’t obvious to everyone, the show itself was a beautiful experience. The setting was mysterious, the outfits unusually aesthetically and skilfully made. Langendijk is well known for her experimental use of materials, and Passama makes jewellery that is so unique it could be put on display as a work of art. The combination of these two creatives, who both use shape, construction, and materials as starting points, was an exceptional success. The black-and-white looks all featured voluminous shapes while still keeping a certain air of lightness, thanks to the open construction and sometimes-translucent materials.

Passama's additions were subtle, sometimes just an embellishment at the edge of a sleeve, others dictating the form of a piece as the brooch-like pieces caused ruching in the fabric. The result was ensembles that balance on the edge of art and design; the models, incidentally, were themselves balanced on surprisingly stylish white clogs. The fairylike models' styling, hair, and make-up added just the right amount to the overall atmosphere. We're curious what kind of immersive experience these designers will create next.

A voluminous white design with collar details created by Passama. © Team Peter Stigter
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A voluminous white design with collar details created by Passama. © Team Peter Stigter
The styling – especially the white clogs – and the models' hair and make-up contributed to the overall look.  © Team Peter Stigter
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The styling – especially the white clogs – and the models' hair and make-up contributed to the overall look. © Team Peter Stigter
White design with translucent, layered skirt and ruched top featuring wide sleeves and an 'apron' in the lower back. © Team Peter Stigter
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White design with translucent, layered skirt and ruched top featuring wide sleeves and an 'apron' in the lower back. © Team Peter Stigter
White design with translucent, layered skirt and ruched top featuring wide sleeves and an 'apron' in the lower back. © Team Peter Stigter
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White design with translucent, layered skirt and ruched top featuring wide sleeves and an 'apron' in the lower back. © Team Peter Stigter
The most impressive piece: a voluminous black design made of translucent material over a shorter, black slip, complete with Passama's jewellery details on the sleeves and in the middle. Thanks in part to her hair and make-up, the model looked almost like an angel with wings. © Team Peter Stigter
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The most impressive piece: a voluminous black design made of translucent material over a shorter, black slip, complete with Passama's jewellery details on the sleeves and in the middle. Thanks in part to her hair and make-up, the model looked almost like an angel with wings. © Team Peter Stigter
Transparent, white overcoat over a white dress with jewellery details that ruche the jacket between the waist and chest. The model, of course, is wearing white clogs. © Team Peter Stigter
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Transparent, white overcoat over a white dress with jewellery details that ruche the jacket between the waist and chest. The model, of course, is wearing white clogs. © Team Peter Stigter
A unique pair of trousers, ruched at the hip with jewellery and paired with a translucent top. © Team Peter Stigter
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A unique pair of trousers, ruched at the hip with jewellery and paired with a translucent top. © Team Peter Stigter
Details on the sleeves. © Team Peter Stigter
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Details on the sleeves. © Team Peter Stigter
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BARBARA LANGENDIJK

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