Mattijs van Bergen.
The Dutch designer on his cultural roots, creative origins
and finding inspiration in Vincent van Gogh's oil paintings.
THE FINAL TOUCHES.
Days before officially opening Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Amsterdam with his fairy tale-inspired collection, Mattijs van Bergen hasn’t had much sleep. Not that you could tell by looking at him: wearing a sleek tuxedo jacket over a perfectly pressed shirt, he is the epitome of elegance and good taste. The last thing you would expect from someone who, for the past week, has only seen his bed for an average of three hours per night.
With his team putting the final touches on his Autumn/Winter 2014 collection, the atmosphere in his studio – located on the Herengracht in Amsterdam’s buzzing centre –
mirrors the same feel his designs exude: calm and relaxed, yet vividly exciting. Warm and thoughtful, but with a healthy kick of unexpected energy, just like the designer himself.
Your label is represented internationally, and yet you keep returning to Amsterdam. What do you love about showing your collections here?
I’ve shown my designs all over the world, in Paris, Shanghai, Istanbul and London to name but a few, but you’re right – every time I’m abroad I realise just how Dutch I am. My roots are here, and my sense of colour and the selection of materials is very Dutch. I also think that we are building something here in Amsterdam that could become an interesting market for luxury fashion.
Which are your favourite pieces from your latest collection?
There’s a dress made of a print based on one of van Gogh’s paintings – blue flowers on a yellow background – and a pink/aubergine/blue coat that’s very “me”: grown up, yet playful.
Do you have a muse or a certain type of woman in mind when you design?
In a general sense I don’t have one specific woman in mind, but there is always an understanding of the kind of woman I see wearing Mattijs: she’s extravagant, powerful and she celebrates life. For this season, my muse is Jolanda van den Berg, a Dutch singer and actress, and a good friend. Another woman I admire deeply is Julianne Moore.
When did you realise you wanted to be a fashion designer? Do you remember the first piece you designed?
My mother kept the first piece I designed, which was a long time ago, and I think it’s quite horrible. When I was ten or eleven years old I made a fashion collection book with drawings of outfits for women, and even before that I would always be dressing people up. So I’ve always had an eye for it, but before studying design I actually tried out for acting school. That didn’t work out, so here I am (laughs).
Any insider tips on what to see and experience in Amsterdam?
The Van Gogh Museum is a must. Also, the Cornelis Houtstraat area in the South of Amsterdam is great, it’s where you can find small boutiques with lots of character. I also love Van Ravenstein , they have a beautiful selection of very eclectic pieces. Other than that I recommend Rijsel , a rotisserie with the best chicken in town, close to where I used to have my studio. Simple food made to perfection in combination with friendly prices and great service. It makes Amsterdam feel like home.