Fabric developer Maison Margiela tells all..

Crafts Council Netherlands spoke to Yvette Peek, fabric developer at Maison Margiela, about her love for crafts and how she managed to get John Galliano use Staphorster Stipwerk in the latest collection.

Can you tell us more about your background, what training you’ve had and where you’ve worked so far?
I graduated ‘cum laude’ at ArtEZ Institute of the Arts in Arnhem and have experience as assistant designer and Fabric developer at various fashion houses such as; Maison Margiela, Lanvin, Simone Rocha and Sharon Wauchob.

How did you end up at Maison Margiela? Was that a dream?
Via a designer at Lanvin I got introduced at Maison Margiela. She sent my portfolio and resume to an old colleague of hers that works at Maison Margiela. After two days I already received a message that I was invited for an interview led by John Galliano himself. The moment I received this call, I realized that my dream could actually come true. Maison Margiela is in my view an outstanding fashion house where creativity still prevails.

Where does your love for the crafts come from, did you learn crafts in school or at the academy?
Ever since my childhood I have a passion for crafts. I strive to rediscover old techniques and forgotten crafts to develop rich fabrics. During my study not much attention was paid to the teaching of crafts, but we got the freedom to immerse ourselves in traditional techniques.

Do you feel it is a shame that there is not much attention for crafts?
I think it is important to let students delve into traditional textile techniques. But I think it is especially important to focus more on the construction of clothing. I’ve noticed that there are different priorities in big fashion houses. The emphasis here is on the visual aspect of the final product in contrast to the quality of the clothes themselves.

Can you tell us more how the collection was formed? How did come up with introducing John Galliano with Staphorster Stipwerk?
At the beginning of a new collection John Galliano gives one word as inspiration. Everyone gets two weeks to develop and create their own project around this word. You are free to think what discipline you want to apply to achieve your inspiration. This period is very interesting because everyone can work quite freely. After that we present multiple mood boards about the word. Personally, I’m always looking for old traditional techniques and the Dutch printing method ‘Staphorster stipwerk’ created by Gerard van Oosten suited perfectly. John Galliano was enthusiastic right from the start, not only about the stipwerk but also the Dutch costume and especially the decorative ear plates. I made several samples in collaboration with Gerard using different surfaces. But finally John Galliano chose the most authentic stipwerk. And thanks to Crafts Council Netherlands we were able to obtain a lot of information about the construction of the decorative ear plates that eventually were produced in Paris.

How do you see the future of the crafts and craft techniques in fashion?
It is enormously important that traditional techniques are given a new life, to be developed and taught to a new generation. In the recent collection of Maison Margiela Artisanal look 24 has received the most publicity so far. This is a particularly fascinating white coat on which a face has been structured from tulle. This is made in collaboration with artist Benjamin Shine. He himself has been creating portraits from tulle for many years. Benjamin Shine worked for months on this project to finally achieve this three-dimensional smoky effect. The surfeit of publicity indicates that people have a certain longing for craftsmanship and authenticity. The renewed interest in crafts is associated with an impending loss of specialist skills and knowledge. And I hope that crafts are the innovator of the creative sector.