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An Interview with Yvonne Kwok: The winner of De Lichting at Amsterdam Fashion Week 2012!

Posted by Editor Editor
on 25 August 2012 in Arts // Fashion

This post has already been read 23563 times!

by Maya Dupont

De Lichting (sponsored by G-Star), was created in 2007 with the intention to make the world of high fashion accessible to the graduates of fashion academy’s all over the Netherlands. Of the 7 fashion schools, professors are urged to elect 2 of their most promising students to participate in De Lichting competition. This year’s 14 participants:

Yvonne Kwok
Tess van Zalingen
Sara Veenstra
Poul Brouwer
Nadja Wering
Morta Griskeviciute
Miriam de Waard
Judith van Vliet
Jef Montes
Ilona Putkaradze
Esther Kruyer
David Laport
Dagmar Lindeijer
Brian Geradts

This year young talent Yvonne Kwok won the prestigious De Lichting ‘G-Star RAW Talent Award’ consisting of 10,000 prize money, as well as an invitation to contribute to the international catwalk presentation of G-Star in Berlin – not bad for a “just graduate”. Although Yvonne Kwok ran away with the prize, the competition was fierce. From David Laport’s wind blowing frameworks to Judith van Vliet’s 150,000 cocktail stick constructions, and indeed Yvonne Kwok’s marionette inspired collection, one could practically smell the blood, sweat and tears that preceded these creations.Lost & Found spoke to the winning contestant Yvonne Kwok to talk all about the hardships, the tension/excitement on her road to victory!

So Yvonne: tell me more about yourself and how you got involved in the world of fashion.

My name is actually Yvonne Poei-Yie Kwok. I also have a Chinese name but my parents thought it would be easier to have a Dutch name as well. I am 24 years old, I live in Utrecht and I just graduated from the Amsterdam Fashion Institute.

When I was little I was always very creative. After school I’d liked to cook, watch fashion TV and – like every girl – I enjoyed playing with my Barbie dolls; dressing them up and making clothes for them. My mother would sew the designs I would draw as a little girl. Once when I was 7, my mother sewed a white Chinese inspired evening dress which I designed and I was so proud of it! I was always very picky and was adamant about choosing my own clothing.

I always had the dream to become a fashion designer and that’s why I chose to study at the technical school for fashion & clothing in Hilversum, after my secondary school.

Which designers are your inspiration?
In my final year I did an internship with Dutch designer Mada van Gaans where I met a lot of different fashion students which inspired me to continue my road and go to AMFI to even further explore my knowledge and design skills. Viktor & Rolf have also always been an inspiration. I really like their conceptual approach to design and that’s why I chose to do my internship there in my final year at AMFI.

Please explain your collection in a bit more detail, what were you inspirations?
This collection initially started because I really felt the need to put a lot of love and handwork into my collection. Before I started this collection I felt pressured by the amount of time we had to realize our designs.  This is where the idea started to use the marionette doll as a metaphor for fashion and to open a discussion about what the essence of creativity is nowadays in fashion. In my opinion we have all gone a bit mad and by using the marionette doll I wanted to make a mockery of the subject.

Next to the marionette doll I used the carnival as an inspiration. With carnival the logic, the laws, and standards of the regulated life are suspended. The social hierarchy of everyday life is suspended and the equality between people is lifted.

The grotesque body also plays a role, its related to the caricature where some body parts like the shoulder and pelvis are being blown up by the use of different folding techniques.
Next to the carnival I also added an edgy side of punk into it, which you can find in the sporty jacket where I made use of knitwear and neoprene combined with big golden brads.

This collection was based on humour VS destruction;

“if we take everything too seriously within the fashion system, there’s no fun to be had anymore!”

One of De Lichting Judges said that without a clear knowledge of how to market your collection, you’re not going to get very far. Do you have a clear indication of which direction you would like to go with your designs? Have you already inspiration for a next collection?
I also believe that this is very important. This is why I also want to gain some more working experience before I consider having my own label. There’s so much to learn, and within a company you can see all the different facets. As a young designer you simply don’t have the money and luxury to make mistakes so working is the most logical step for me to make.

What was it like being part of Amsterdam Fashion Week? Is this the direction you would like to continue with? How was the stress level backstage before the show? Or did you have everything under control?
It was awesome to be part of the Amsterdam Fashion Week/Lichting. I met a lot of different people from other design academies and that’s what I liked the most; seeing what others are doing and taking a look inside their portfolios.  Also presenting our work to the professionals was a good learning experience.

The show of course was very nice. I didn’t stressed at all backstage; I was more excited and happy for the opportunity I got. I already did a couple of shows before like the graduation fashion week in London and the Transit show so I was very well prepared and I knew what to expect beforehand.

How has your life changed since winning De Lichting? Do you know what you will spend the prize money on?
It’s crazy how much exposure you get by attending and then winning De Lichting! It’s a really good beginning/prospective because I think it will create much more opportunities. With my prize money I will pay off my graduation project and the rest I will save it up for the future!






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