Meet the Designer Behind London Fashion Week’s Most Viral Moment

ByJohnie Turber

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Dirk Vaessen never ever anticipated his graduate assortment to go viral on TikTok hours immediately after the London Higher education of Fashion grasp of arts graduate clearly show on the first working day of London Fashion 7 days.

“I thought: ‘OK. My do the job is a bit unusual or whatsoever.’ I think it will get some interest, but I didn’t assume it to be this significant,” said Vaessen around Zoom from his dwelling close to Arsenal in North London.

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Sights of the hashtag #dirkvaessen, tagged to videos exhibiting his remarkable wooden footwear descending the runway, hover all over 22.1 million at press time. This figure is 7.5 million far more than the whole sights of the hashtag #richardquinn, which was just one of the most viral models for the duration of the previous London Fashion 7 days, which finished on Feb. 22.

The 26-calendar year-previous Dutch designer, who has been interested in shoemaking due to the fact the age of 15 simply because “I wished to put on heels but there weren’t so lots of heels in my sizing,” explained the notion of his MA graduate collection was beyond footwear.

“The footwear are not there for remaining footwear, but additional like a tool that variations your posture. It was primarily based on the concept of form follows purpose. So I took away all the needless things in the footwear.

“I am a shoemaker. I know how to make appropriate footwear. This assortment for me was a very attention-grabbing new system. I utilized absolutely diverse approaches with milling, laser chopping and water jet cutting. Which is why they appear so abstract,” Vaessen, who hails from Arnhem, described.

He additional that these sneakers are initially produced for his change-moi, Courageous Hendrik, who lives in the 2070s. The title of his graduate selection is “Brave Hendrik’s New Identities.”

“It is a globe wherever you really do not individual nearly anything any more and where you only very own your body, and how do you identify if you really do not have something? Then you have to determine by way of your posture. And which is why I utilized to make these sneakers for myself due to the fact I really experienced to investigate how I want to do a little something with my physique,” he claimed.

“Brave Hendrik in Dutch means a human being who sticks to the rules and who will hardly ever be out of line. But in English, the term brave signifies courage and heroism.…It just helps make you be courageous to get out of individuals procedures of modern society. So which is why I occur up with his name. Also, Hendrik is my name on my passport,” he extra.

Requested about why he chose wooden as the most important product, Vaessen claimed it did not happen to him at first that it was a nod to his Dutch heritage, even with the nation’s most famous shoes — clogs — becoming created from wood.

“It’s really funny to see how my heritage is sliding into my work. The choice for the materials was all about operation. I essential a little something powerful but mild. That’s why I labored with aluminum, wood and leather,” he said.

A look from Dirk Vaessen’s graduate collection - Credit: James Reese/Courtesy

A glimpse from Dirk Vaessen’s graduate assortment – Credit score: James Reese/Courtesy

James Reese/Courtesy

To make positive the versions could stroll down the runway comfortably, Vaessen practiced with them and at some point grew to become a design for his lineup.

“The sneakers definitely question for you to adapt and to perform with the footwear rather of the shoes doing work with you. I normally asked my versions if they are relaxed. If not, then we’ll figure out yet another way. That’s also why I was going for walks on a person of the shoes myself due to the fact those have been the most sophisticated types. I was like: ‘OK, this is about my alter moi. If I’m pushing persons on the catwalk with difficult walks, perhaps I need to be section of it myself as well,” he explained.

In advance of attending the London Higher education of Fashion, Vaessen acquired a bachelor’s degree in products style and design from ArtEZ College of the Arts, the place he also served as a trainer for footwear progress following graduation in 2019 right until previous December.

Just after the viral debut, the designer claimed he would like to proceed to create conceptual functions in the Netherlands, alternatively of London.

“I don’t see myself as a ‘fashion’ fashion designer. I’m much more like a storyteller. Not only do I do that as a result of footwear, but also via masks and through auto-inflatable objects. I think I will go more with the notion I’m functioning with correct now, and then see how I can also alter posture by means of other points about the human physique and build shoes along the way,” Vaessen said.

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