Interview: Jan Taminiau, For the Love of Haute Couture
by Eric Waroll
For all lovers of Haute Couture, the name of Jan Taminiau must be familiar. This designer has managed to establish himself as one of the most exciting talent of Couture. A few days after his show in Paris last July, we sat down for a chat with ease on his life, his views on gossips and his last collection.
Through this collection, he combined with his thesis ethnic inspirations expertise Couture clothing and traditional building crafts. Volumes suddenly get shifted to other shares of the body. Color patterns appear for the first time in January Taminiau’s collections through the use of simple geometric shapes and color contrasts. No need to say how much we look forward to being amazed once again by his next collection.
Eric: Can you tell how your love for fashion came to you?
Jan: How it came to me? It was already there, I was mesmerized by women in general. It was something that was always there.
Eric: You went to the Arnhem Academy, how was it for you?
Jan: It gave me a base of thinking or being creatively free, because they teach you very well to think on everything. They always ask you questions like why, how, and what for. So it was not just about drawing a dress, it was about why you draw this dress, where did it come from, what inspired you to do this. So it was really a great way of working, because the school is based in an Art Academy system so it was always more about a concept. For me, it worked well.
Eric: Yeah, I see it.
Jan: Yeah (laughs).
Eric: If I take a look at all your collections, if I had to pick just one word to describe your work, I would say « light ». It seems like light is very important to you.
Jan: Through my whole life, I loved light and I love what it does to fabrics because it takes away the color, or when dust hits the light you get something magical. I love the magic of light, and what it does to people. Light gives a magic moment to life. So that’s why it’s being a constant inspiration for me.
Eric: So how did you end up in Paris, because you were in the Netherlands right?
Jan: You know, as a child, I have always being facinated by couture, I loved it and I loved the fancy part of it. I took inspiration from French designers, then I should present myself here and let them judge me and say something about me. So I said « ok let’s go to Paris ».
Eric: Now that you’re presenting in Paris, how you feel about Paris?
Jan: Uhm… how do I feel about Paris? I find it still very exciting, you know you always have this question about what couture could be or is or what it’s gonna be in the future. That’s what I find exciting and I have a strong belief that couture has a presence nowadays, that’s why I’m showing here. Also being in Paris give you this opportunity to work with great people, with this collection I worked with Lesage so it was big dream come true.
Eric: Well, a few years ago, you did a ready-to-wear collection isn’t it?
Jan: It was two years ago that I did this collection. For me, it was this try-out moment of looking and what prêt-à-porter could mean to me or what it could do for me. So I took this step and then I decided I wasn’t ready for it at that point.
Eric: How would you describe your last Haute-couture collection?
Jan: An ethnic vibe going into this great volume and with that celebrating couture. So these elements mixed together gave this collection. So yeah it’s huge volume going into the delicate couture. For me, the Jan Taminiau woman is this independent, self-thinking woman, she is bearing up to go out and say ‘this is who I want to be, this is who I dare to be. I love the past but I want move forward to the future.’
Eric: Did you take a look at the other collections of the Haute-Couture season?
Jan: I saw a bit of pieces because after the show we went into a roller-coaster, and then to the marriage of my brother. I haven’t checked out that much of the last Haute-Couture collections. I was also excited to look at Dior and see what Raf Simons gonna do, it was exciting to see that he took Dior to a different direction. But it was logical that he would take a different direction and he wouldn’t start to do Galliano stuff.
Eric: Talking about Galliano, the thing everyone was talking about – and is still talking about – is that he had a meeting with…
Jan: Anna Wintour! Yes, I have payed attention to that. (laughs) But honestly I absolutely have no opinion about it. I’m not a judge or a jury, you know, so I have no clue to judge that part.
Eric: Have you ever thought about collaborating with another designer?
Jan: Oh! Who would I like to collaborate with? I would love to work with Martin Margiela, in a way we are opposite, but I think in someway it could be great to work with him, with the real one. Also with Comme Des Garçons, Rei Kawabuko. That I would love to because I think it would be an interesting dialogue. I love how Japanese people get so into detail in their technique, and the way they use their technique.
Eric: Nowadays, it seems like being a fashion designer is not enough. We’ve seen some of them doing advertisement, designing Diet Coke bottles etc. Do you think being a fashion designer is not just about clothing today?
Jan: With clothes, you give a focus in life on the way people dress or the way they wanna dress. It also gives them… uhm… you know, how they move, how they feel. So it’s the most logical step that you start thinking about the other stuffs, and then you start thinking about how people can sit or how they drink. It all has to do with the body. It’s a quite natural step to take. I think it’s a fun new element that is now more visibility adding to the designing field, that is not so stuck.
Eric: Can we expect a collection for men in the future?
Jan: Oh I would love to do one. Once the steps we are taking now are more settled down, and I have more time , then I could start to designing for myself. (laughs) No but I would be very excited because I have always had great love for men.
Eric: I guess you must have felt very happy to see Lady GaGa wearing one of your pieces…
Jan: That was great because I think she is a great role model. She came in a period when everything was so clean, everybody had to be so normal or normal as possible. And suddenly she was giving a face to every people who dare to be different, and she said “I would be the most different one of you all, so you all would be normal now”. So you know for me it was such a beautiful statement to make, she does such a good job at it also, I was really humble… you know, that I could be part of that step in such a small way. I think she’s the best ambassador for freedom, and being free for your expression. She did a great job.
Eric: Is it the same for you? Is your work a medium for you to “free people” or to convey your political ideas or things like that?
Jan: In a way, it’s my way of expressing myself so in a way it’s my way to tell people that is okay to be different, and to play with that vulnerable part of being different. Stepping out into the world being different is in a way a scary thing too, because the big majority keeps themselves normal. I want people to know that there is more to life than being normal, and that’s also great to age, you know. What is more beautiful than aging? Be proud of your wrinkles you know, because then you have lived, you have loved, and it means that you had a great life.