Nominee Threshold Award Social Practices
Meet Loes Platenkamp! Loes was nominated for the 2021 Threshold Award Social Practices with her graduation project ‘Bloom’. In this interview, Loes tells us about her work and future plans.
Can you tell us a bit about your graduation project and how it came about?
Nature has been a great source of inspiration for me as a designer, so with my graduation project I wanted to give something back to nature in a meaningful way. To me, flowers are the most beautiful representation of nature and I wanted to show this in my work. So I created a textile collection that is dyed with flowers. With the collection, I want to show the potential of natural dyes, particularly in terms of their positive effect on our skin.
I researched the effects of chemical fabric dye on our skin. A much-researched topic is environmental harm caused by chemical fabric dye, but they also have a strong impact on our skin. The skin is the largest organ of our body and has an absorbent capacity, meaning that it absorbs the chemicals in our clothing. It is known that about 8000 different chemicals are used in the fashion industry. Not all of these are harmful, but a lot of them are. The harmful chemicals can cause various skin issues, such as contact eczema, but they can also disrupt hormonal balance and can even cause cancer.
While doing research and learning all this, my fear of using harmful chemicals grew bigger and bigger. Until the point at which I no longer wanted to support this way of producing clothing. That is why I started researching alternative ways of dying fabric. The Bloom collection is made entirely out of natural materials, such as silk, cotton, linen and bamboo. I printed the fabrics using flowers. I did this by laying the flowers onto the fabrics and then smashing them to release their colorant. I mainly used outdoor plants and flowers because they are most colourful, and they can also have a positive effect on our health. Violets, for example, are known to have an antibacterial effect.
After making the prints I designed a modular collection to show that there are many different possibilities with the fabrics. It was hard for me to cut the fabrics because it took me so much time and effort to produce them. That is why I integrated tunnels and strings into my designs, so that you can create an infinite number of different shapes on the body. That is how I came up with the various asymmetrical silhouettes, voluminous statement pieces and simple slip dresses, all with the emphasis on the female shapes.
Which themes or societal concerns are you addressing in your work, and how?
To me, Bloom is a good example of slow fashion. The fabrics for this collection are authentic and hand printed, offering an alternative to cheap fabrics that are dyed chemically. As I mentioned before, chemical dye is not only harmful to the environment, but also to our health. With my collection I aim to suggest a potential solution to these problems. But it can also be seen as an artistic expression to draw attention to the problem of chemical dyes and to show the potential of plants and flowers as an alternative way of dying fabrics.
What will you be working on in the near future? What are your next steps?
I want to start making garments from the Bloom collection on request. I believe this is a good way to sell my designs without producing unnecessary waste. As a creator, I am interested in moving between different worlds, combining fashion design, art and education. I think this puts me in a unique position that really fits me. In this way, I hope to contribute to the fight against the use of toxic chemicals in the fashion industry.
To read more about Loes’ work, pay a visit to her Graduation Catalogue Page. The winner of the Threshold Award Social Practices will be announced during a festive ceremony as part of the Graduation Show. Keep an eye on our Graduation Show page for more information.