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Maaike van den Abbeele combines nostalgic memories with classic painting

Her show was a journey through time to the Dutch Golden Age and her own childhood

For Maaike van den Abbeele, the fact that she would eventually do 'something' in fashion was a foregone conclusion. She was always diving into the dress-up box, she devoured fashion magazines, and she even designed her own first communion outfit. She took a technical fashion and creation course as soon as she could, then went on to study at KASK in Ghent.

Van den Abbeele has dual nationality, both Dutch and Belgian. Though her first collection was inspired by a culture not her own (Japanese), this time she decided to get back to her roots. The result is an autobiographical collection entitled MA_ROOTS.

Golden Age

For inspiration, Van den Abbeele leafed through old photo albums for pictures of herself dressed as a fisher girl in Enkhuizen or decked out in a floral cape. In those photos, she found two themes in the Dutch and Belgian Golden Ages, which became the second common thread running through the story she told in the Transformatorhuis on Sunday afternoon at the 27th edition of MBFWA.

Journey through time with a personal touch

MA_ROOTS resulted in a visual journey through time. The colour palette for the collection was taken from the national colours of the Netherlands and Belgium: blue, white, red, yellow, and black, embellished with silver and gold veils. It gave depth to the floral patterns that were hand painted onto the dresses. As with the paintings of great Dutch and Flemish masters, the designs were dominated by a sense of drama á la Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Eyck, or Van der Weyden. Headwear was made from traditional materials like lace (a reference to Bruges lace) in red and black.

Heraldry and symbolism

Heraldry and symbolism also played a key role in the collection. A reference to the age of knights and the fight for self-governance was translated into sophisticated, gracious armour in which several models moved gracefully down the runway. Closing out the show was the clawing lion, the king of the animal kingdom that is, in both the Netherlands and Belgium, a symbol of strength and of the independence of both kingdoms. Van den Abbeele incorporated the image of the lion into elements like silver-maned 3D lions on a black jumper and the embroidery on a cobalt blue gown.

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Maaike Van den Abbeele

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