Tom Van Der Borght: The luxury label to look out for
The Festival d’Hyères is an internationally renowned festival of fashion and photography, directed by Jean-Pierre Blanc. Its primary intention is to showcase the eclectic and avant-garde work of burgeoning designers, photographers and creatives. Selected by juries of top names within the industry, ten stylists, ten photographers and ten accessories creators are chosen to take part in a range of contests, showcases and collaborative projects. For many young designers, this offers a chance to participate in their first fashion show or exhibition, and they usually take the runway by storm.
The 35th Festival d’Hyères was the most celebrated festival to date: featuring the likes of Johnathan Anderson (who overlooked this year’s jury), Tyler Mitchell, Kaia Gerber and Michel Gaubert, the Première Vision Grand Prix was awarded to Tom Van Der Borght, and viewing his collection, it’s no surprise as to why. The hefty prize sum, as well as a collaborative project with the Chane Métiers d’Art and a show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin, will certainly benefit from the progressive presence of Van Der Borght. The Vogue reported, in an interview with Jonathan Anderson, that “What we really, really admired in the work of Tom Van Der Borght is that it was a totally new type of form, new type of shape, new type of commitment to a silhouette, and it was uncompromising.”
Uncompromising is the perfect way to describe 42-year-old Van Der Borght’s collection: called ‘Seven Ways to be TVDB’, the featuring of his initials already displayed the level of commitment and involvement that the designer was incorporating into the collection. Bold, clashing, vibrant colours graced the runway, in varieties of pastel and neon, and the models adorned spike-like masks that looked both EDM-inspired and like a frightening mask simultaneously. Interestingly, Van Der Borght referenced the use of recycled climbing ropes in his pieces, which truly attests his ability to think creatively and craft anything into a fashion item (perhaps veering away from prêt-à-porter, however). This element of sustainability is of great importance, especially when considering the way contemporary audiences are receiving sustainable collections. They have become almost coveted, and rightly so. The designer also used other plastic waste, 3D space mesh and elastic, and this unlikely combination is reflected immediately in the runway show: the divergence from traditional fabrics and silhouettes makes Van Der Borght all the more original and pioneering. Upon first viewing the collection, it screamed Riccardo Tisci’s Burberry, but with an even wackier twist: the face masks were exaggerated further, and the oversized silhouettes were almost unrecognisable. It’s a collection that screams Givenchy, Alexander McQueen and Rick Owens, and somehow manages to further these established houses’ collections by crafting something that amalgamates them all into one dazzling show of unique craftsmanship.
Van Der Borght listed a variety of inspirations for his collection, including Björk, Iris van Herpen and Viktor & Rolf. Van Herpen is a particularly interesting source of inspiration: the Dutch fashion designer is renowned for combining the power of technology with traditional haute couture designs, creating an array of complex pieces. It’s an innovative approach to fashion, and the same label can be applied to Van Der Borght. Van Herpen has exhibited her collections at the V&A, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Palais de Tokyo, so certainly leaves a lasting shadow in her wake. Björk is another key figure for Van Der Borght: the Icelandic singer mirrors her extensive and diverse musical sound in her performative and theatrical stage costumes. It would be a designer’s dream to be involved in the making of her tour collection (much like Yoghi Yamamoto and David Bowie), and it’s undeniably something Van Der Borght aspires to.
Van Der Borght is a worthy winner, and is a new label to look out for on the fashion circuit. It is hard to predict just what runway shows will evolve into, whether completely online or on film, yet the creative license afforded to this budding designer by being involved with the Chanel Métier d’Arts will set his career into motion.
Caterina Bragoli Fashion Week & Exhibitions Director
Cambridge University Fashion & Luxury Business Society