Of the many creative disciplines that exist, the conceptual fashion designer is perhaps one that intrigues me most. After all, many are gifted, skilled creatives who could easily climb the ranks from intern to assistant to in-house designer and beyond. Yet instead, the conceptual fashion designer believes that a fashion collection is an art form – a way to question society’s standards and nuances and expectations – for the world to, quite literally, wrap themselves with. And so, instead of actively pursuing the pull toward mass-production and six figures, they design from the soul, producing outlandish, conceptual pieces that double as billboards for the beliefs they hold dear. Beliefs that, for Femke Agema, are as close to the heart as the skin it covers.
Femke designs for the tough, boyish young woman – “a bit crazy, spontaneous and cheerful who climbs in trees if she feels like it,” Femke writes. And although her creations are playful and fresh, they’re also rife with meaning. Take her first collection, a breakout line from 2007 entitled Hide Out, which was a bold fight against consumerism. “The Hide Out collection helped people escape all the TV programs and adverts that tried to convince us we need to change our lives,” she writes. Throw pillow-inspired skirts, boxing glove jackets and fortune cookie bodysuits offered a conceptual shield from the products we’re bombarded with on a daily basis – a nod to the idea that the very products we’re comforting ourselves with might be the source of discomfort itself.
And then there was her 2010-2011 collection, Totem, featuring costume-inspired basics with masked headpieces and disguised make-up. “The general inspiration for the project was the cropped and edited images that people have of each other because of social networking sites and the shift this has led to in ‘real’ human relationships,” Femke explained.
Yet perhaps two of her most inspired collections were Drijf and Nigliktok, both created as themed “end-of-the-world” lines. “I couldn’t get past the doomsday predictions of the Mayans that the world would end in the year 2012,” she writes. So she created two scenario collections – one of water, one of ice – positive takes on the apocalyptic destruction of the world. “I don’t give rise to doom and gloom,” she writes in the statement accompanying each line, proving that her signature colorful and playful aesthetic can illuminate even the most catastrophic of landscapes.
“I make these crazy items because I love making them,” Femke writes of her quirky styling pieces that accompany each collection. “I wouldn’t get the satisfaction if I skip them; they complement the wearable items.”
Her latest “crazy items” are ever-present in her 2013 collection, Elders, pictured throughout this post. “Elders is a vision of the world springing into life after winter,” Femke writes. “It’s inspired by the simple joy we feel in being let loose into the wild to play in an environment overflowing with possibilities. A world where you make treehouses, huts and rafts from whatever you can get your hands on. A world made to be explored, bursting with colours and textures, where the only limit is your imagination.”
It’s a world I imagine Femke lives in daily – one that is limitless and abundant. But the reality is that, like all creatives, Femke sometimes struggles with fear. “I am not very aware of my creativity,” she writes. “I guess that my way of fostering it is to trust it. At the beginning of a new collection I’m always scared of failure, but I also have faith that it all will turn out fine.”
It’s funny to think that the maker of such bold, unique pieces might entertain the same demons we do, questioning and doubting as we sit idly in a cubicle or carpool lane. But it’s true, isn’t it? We’re all more alike than we know.
The key seems to be, like Femke, to wrap ourselves in our beliefs – from whatever we can get our hands on – and go forth into a world where the only limit is our imagination.
Image Credits: Femke Agema
p.s. A simple reminder that we don’t have 1,000 frames.