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The World of Monique van Heist

Fashion designer Monique van Heist presents MODEMETMONIQUE; a vision of her work seen alongside antique pieces from the Zeeuws Museum’s collection.

By Katie Dominy / 22-04-2010

Middelburg’s Zeeuws Museum plays host to designer Monique van Heist this summer, in an exhibition that explores the designer’s work by contrasting and comparing it with the Zeeland heritage clothing and accessories that form part of the museum’s collection. The south-west Zeeland region of the Netherlands with its low-lying islands has strong craft traditions associated with regional dress.

Monique van Heist launched her label in 2004, winning the Mercedes-Benz Dutch Fashion Award in 2008 and is known for her experimental  approach to fashion, often inspired by her observations of the banal: at the supermarket checkout, on the streets and on TV.

MODEMETMONIQUE’’s central thread is hellofashion, Monique van Heist’s permanent collection of clothing, accessories and lifestyle that runs to furniture, make-up advice and even recipes. Launched in May 2009, van Heist describes hellofashion as ‘a continuous collection of ‘moniquevanheist’ classics by which I set out to challenge the fashion system…hellofashion cuts across the fashion system’s usual cycle by adding new products to the collection at any given time.’

The collections of Monique van Heist and the Zeeuws Museum are fused into an enormous ‘wardrobe’ and aside from the cloting and objects, the exhibition contains a series of photographs and a hellobedroom installation alongside a replica of Monique van Heist’s actual working studio.
In October 2009 Christie Arends (head of exhibitions at the Zeeuws Museum) asked Monique van Heist to be part of a group exhibition. Van Heist agreed, but after a couple of weeks Arends asked her to actually do a solo-exhibition and Van Heist didn't have to think twice and agreed immediately. Her assignment was to reflect on the regional (fashion) collections of the museum, as Arends saw the growth in the museum’s collection of women’s clothing as having a synergy with the permanence of hellofashion with its slow adding-on of new items.

We asked van Heist about MODEMETMONIQUE. ‘We used my hellofashion project as a basis for the exhibition and made crossovers with the collection of the Zeeuws Museum. For example, we created a room where hellofashion garments and accessories are matched to pieces from the museum's collection. And in the photography we mixed my collection with the collection of the museum and took portraits of people working in the museum or from the Zeeland region.’
The hellofashion collection is the thread of the exhibition, which is divided into three rooms in which three different aspects of the hellofashion collection are highlighted: product (garments), representation (photography) and the process of creation.

In the first room, vintage wardrobes display a mix of hellofashion items with pieces from the Zeeuws Museum – matching old with new, with a humorous twist at times. Van Heist’s Broche du Jour, a paper brooch, to be worn only for one day, is displayed alongside a pleated nightcap from the Zuid-Beveland area of Zeeland, which likewise can be worn only once without having to be re-pleated. Van Heist’s star-shaped dress sits next to a starfish from the museum’s archive.

In the second room a series of photographs blends the present and the past. The images depict a selection of local Zeeuwen people wearing hellofashion garments combined with clothing and accessories from the Zeeuws Museum collection. The Zeeuwen models range from the director of the museum through to its cleaning lady, a graphic designer from the Zeeuws Vlaanderen region and even "Miss Zeeland".

The third room features a true-to-scale image of van Heist's atelier, in which items from both her collections and that of the Zeeuws Museum are presented. It also includes a hellobedroom installation in which the border between bed, garments and interior are blurred; everything is made from the same Liberty floral print.

MODEMETMONIQUE runs from 10 April to 24 October 2010 at the Zeeuws Museum, Middelburg 

Images: top page, main and first two small images from top by Marco Deurloo, followed by two images by Ivo Wennekes.

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