Non-Dutch fashion designers

Gemeentemuseum Den Haag collects fashion by leading international designers. Over the years, there has been an extraordinary growth in interest in the phenomenon of the ‘couturier’ or ‘designer’. It was couturier Charles Frederick Worth who introduced the concept of the ‘label’ in the 19th century. Worth signed his clothes with a signature woven into the fabric. The Gemeentemuseum has one gown by Worth, with his label in the waistband. In imitation of Worth, more and more couturiers began ‘signing’ their designs in this way. The museum’s collection includes many gowns with such labels dating from the 1880s onwards. It is a mark of authenticity, showing that a design really is from Paris, for example.

Collections by French couturiers were regularly shown in the Netherlands in the 20th century. The first known fashion show took place at the fashion house Hirsch in Amsterdam in 1912. The store had just moved into spectacular new premises. Models had been brought in from Paris to show the latest fashions. Shows were regularly held in The Hague and Amsterdam in the 1920s and 30s, featuring models from well-known Paris fashion houses including Jeanne Paquin, Paul Poiret, Madeleine Vionnet, Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel and Callot Soeurs. This continued after the Second World War, with presentations by Jacques Fath and Hubert de Givenchy, among others. Other big names on the Paris fashion scene in this period included Christian Dior, Cristóbal Balenciaga and, again, Chanel.

In the 1960s and 70s the Dutch followed fashion from Paris and also from London. The leading designers of the period were André Courrèges, Pierre Cardin, Paco Rabanne, Yves Saint Laurent (in Paris), and Mary Quant, Zandra Rhodes and Vivienne Westwood (in London). The arrival of Japanese designers on the Paris catwalk sparked interest in the innovative work of names like Comme des Garcons, Yohji Yamamoto and Issey Miyake. The 1980s and 90s also saw growing interest in Italian designers such as Gianni Versace, Prada and Armani, and also in leading Belgian designers like Dries van Noten, Ann Demeulenmeester and Walter van Beirendonck.

From the 1950s onwards it became traditional for the founder of a fashion house to appoint a successor when they gave up designing themselves. The list of top designers therefore grows steadily, and will ensure that our collection continues to do the same in the future.

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