Designer Mattijs van Bergen has taken the next step in telling his story: Aaltje van Zweden, Jolanda van den Berg and Maria Kraakman are now official ambassadors of his brand. "We're making creative luxury for headstrong women and that's what I've found in these three ambassadors. They get me and they live out my story, which makes my clothes more than just clothes. They’ve become a story."
Throughout the years, many (male) designers have brought on a woman as a muse or brand ambassador. Audrey Hepburn, for instance, was an inspiration to Hubert de Givenchy and Karl Lagerfeld has had a long line of muses, from Claudia Schiffer to Cara Delevigne and now Kristen Stewart and Kendall Jenner. Mattijs van Bergen has now added himself to that list of designers, as he's just named Aaltje van Zweden, Jolanda van den Berg and Maria Kraakman to be representatives for his label. "I like to be in control of who my clothing explicitly represents myself," says Van Bergen. "I think it's fantastic that there are all kinds of beautiful women wearing beautiful things, but designers loaning out their designs has become almost too automatic. So I'm going the other way by choosing my own ambassadors myself. I'd rather commit myself to a woman that I admire than to random celebrities."
"I'd rather commit myself to a woman that I admire than to random celebrities."
Aaltje van Zweden, Jolanda van den Berg and Maria Kraakman
The three ambassadors will wear both Van Bergen's couture and his MATTER line in the press and share his story with their own supporters. That's useful, as the women are different ages and work in different fields, where all three have their own vast networks. Kraakman (41) is an actress, Van den Berg (35) produces theatre shows and Van Zweden (54) travels often with her spouse, conductor Jaap van Zweden, and does work around autism with her foundation, Stichting Papageno. Van Bergen had various reasons for choosing these three women to represent his brand. To him, they all represent the kind of woman he wants to dress. "Each woman, each person, has multiple sides to who they are, for example, both a stronger and a softer side. Jolanda, for instance, is a mother, actress, theatre producer and girlfriend. She can express all of these personalities through clothing, preferably mine. Eventually, I'd like to perhaps bring on more women, but for now, it's these three."
"I was raised by my mother alone, so that's where my love for women comes from "
The future is female
Van Bergen has a special bond with all three ambassadors, but he also has personal reasons for his love for women in general. "I was raised by my mother alone, so that's where my love for women comes from," explains the designer. "Women bring a totally different strength that I identify with more than masculine strength. I like working with women, my whole team is made up of women and I have more female friends than I do male friends." Van Bergen also strongly believes in the oft-heard phrase, the future is female, and thinks that the strength as well as the power of women will bring positive changes to the world. "Women approach things in a softer, more emotional way, more from feeling and instinct. I identify with that much more than with the masculine instinct."
Maria Kraakman wearing a look designed by Matthijs van Bergen
Modesty, femininity, sustainability
Maria Kraakman, a celebrated actress who's already won a Golden Calf and a Theo d'Or, believes, as Van Bergen does, in conscious consumption and sustainability. Since introducing his new line, MATTER, last year, the designer has chosen to take a more sustainable approach. MATTER doesn't participate in fashion industry seasons, choosing instead to introduce timeless pieces. Kraakman: "I associate Mattijs van Bergen with modesty, femininity and sustainability, and particularly with the celebration of beauty. As a brand ambassador, I represent the creative convictions of Mattijs van Bergen in my own network. I'm only able to do that because I believe in what he believes in." The designer himself had this to say about Kraakman's ambassadorship: "I love Maria for who she is: grand, authentic and modest. I love dressing Maria. She's strong and feminine at the same time. It stops me in my tracks every time I see her in my designs.'
Jolanda van den Berg wearing a look designed by Matthijs van Bergen.
Time stands still
Jolanda van den Berg has been wearing Van Bergen's designs for years now. The actress and theatre producer actually opened his 2014 Amsterdam FashionWeek show – the collection featuring Van Gogh prints – with an a cappella rendition of Starry, Starry Night. "That was really an honour for me," says Van Bergen. "Jolanda was pregnant back then, and I had a special bespoke pleated dress made for her." Van den Berg has been wearing his designs since they met at a mutual friend's wedding in 2010. "I took to her right away, she's got this magic about her," says Van Bergen. "When Jolanda comes in wearing one of my designs, it's like time stands still. That moves me. Jolanda wearing my designs is a huge gift to me. She makes them into little works of art. It makes me hold my breath." Van den Berg herself said this about her ambassadorship: "From the first time I met him, it was clear to me how endearing and full of interest Mattijs is. He knows how to make real connections, and you see it in his designs. I feel, literally and figuratively, more seen."
Aaltje van Zweden wearing a look designed by Matthijs van Bergen.
A little piece of the Netherlands
Aaltje van Zweden, who was born in Haiti, travels often with her husband, Jaap van Zweden. She also founded Stichting Papageno, which supports families of children with autism. "With Mattijs, I always have a little piece of the Netherlands with me," she says. She and the designer together come up with designs that fit her style. "To me, Mattijs van Bergen's designs represent sensitive individuality. The thoughtful way that Mattijs designs in consultation with me is really important to me." Van Zweden notes that wearing his unique designs always leads to interesting conversations, "for instance about the photos on the fabric." Here she's referring to Van Bergen's Photo to Fashion collection, for which he printed black-and-white photos from the Netherlands Photo Museum's collection onto his modern designs. Van Bergen had this to say about Van Zweden: "Aaltje wears my designs as they were intended to be worn. Aaltje is love, in my eyes. When I see her wearing one of my designs, I'm overwhelmed with joy, I can't stop smiling. Aaltje makes my designs dance."
Mattijs van Bergen opens up a pop-up store from 22nd until 26th of March.
Hij wil hiermee de drempel verlagen voor alle vrouwen die geïnteresseerd zijn in zijn werk. This way, he wants to lower the threshold for all women who are interested in his work. The store is located on the Huidstraat 13, Amsterdam. opening hours are from 11:00 - 17:00.