AVADEM is the fashion label by Anouk van der Meij, a fashion design graduate from the School of Arts in Utrecht. With AVADEM she stands for more spirituality and comfort in the (fashion) world. It gives you the option to wear something comfortable and look edgy and fashionable. She encourages dressing in more lounge and oversized clothing, with wide shapes and lots of layering. This way she tries to make people wearing her clothes feel more happy in their own skin.’
What inspires you in general?
I am obsessed with natural objects like gems, feathers, rocks and shells. Nature is the best designer really. Besides that I always work with a spiritual theme, something that I want to dive into and let people get to know better. The previous theme was enlightenment, this time it’s cleansing. For this I research rituals, different religions, lifestyles and New Age stuff . I think there is more to this world than you can see, energy is so important.
Where are you based?
My studio is in my own home, in Utrecht.
What is it like to be a young designer in your city?
Challenging. You have to keep promoting yourself everywhere at any time. There are a lot of designers here, and more and more graduating every year. You have to leave a good impression, show yourself and keep busy. But there are a lot of good things here too. There are a few shops for young designers and a new fashion event called In Fashion is now taking place in Utrecht. So I do feel that Utrecht is trying to show itself more fashion-wise. Hopefully it will keel developing like this.
What place do you find inspiring?
Thailand has been on my ‘to visit’ list for a while now. The nature must be beautiful and I get inspired by Buddhism. So I would love to go there, see the culture, meditate and do some yoga. But the Plitvice Lake in Croatia is the number one most beautiful place I have been so far. I had never seen such blue water and the forest so green, it was enchanting.
What is the concept behind your latest collection?
The collection is called Immersion, it’s about spiritual cleansing. Or better, the feeling afterwards. There are many different rituals and rites of cleansing in religions and lifestyles. All involve water and serve one goal, purifying. These days going to a spa is a form of spiritual cleansing, you feel stress-free and brand new afterwards. This feeling, the ‘after cleansing’ feeling, I wanted to capture in a collection. Your mind clear and quiet, your clean body wrapped in a comfortable piece of clothing. Wearing Immersion, you should feel like this all day, every day. The prints of Anna Badur, made by rain and wind, give the collection a new dimension.
Describe your collection in three words:
Spiritual, comfortable and edgy.
Do you have a favorite piece in the collection?
The collection is still in process, so I can’t decide yet. But I’m loving the wrap skirt at the moment.
You are currently doing research about spiritual cleansing in different religions. What have you found out so far and how do the results of your research influence your designs?
I’ve been doing research on cleansing rituals in different religions, lifestyles and New Age theories. I initially got inspired by an old mikvah that is placed in the historical museum I work in. It had such serenity. In Judaism the mikvah is used for cleansing rituals. It is a pool build in the ground with only rainwater or water from a natural source, where immersions for purifying take place. In the Christian religion immersing in holy water is baptism and in the shape of a cross on the forehead, it’s used as a cleansing ritual for sins. I found out that abalone shells, of course objects created in water, are used for recharging energies in New Age rites. You can find many of these rituals in the world, but all for the same goal, cleansing or purifying. And all of them involve water. Maybe going to the spa is also a form of spiritual cleansing nowadays. You relief from stress, clear the mind and feel brand new afterwards. This I wanted to capture, not one ritual or religion, but the feeling all humans have afterwards. You know, mind still, body clean, new-start feeling, wrapping your body in a bathrobe or towel. So this resulted in shapes of bathrobes and wrapping techniques in the collection. And maybe I will use abalone shells for my jewelry.
Does the research about religions influence you as a personality? Are you religious?
I’m not a religious person, but I am easily inspired by it. I love anything that brings a deeper meaning to this world. Some rituals, food habits or inspirational ways of thinking I try to implement in my own life. For example meditating exercises or wearing gems. Just small things.
Did you always wanted to work in the field of fashion?
Honestly, no. I wanted to study Biomedical Sciences a few years ago. Microbiology intrigues me and I wanted to cure cancer. I was a bit too ambitious back then. Still am sometimes. I was about 17 when I first walked into an Art Academy and it caught me. Of course I was familiar with art, my dad is a painter. But for me, fashion is the best of all art worlds or forms. You draw, create things, research, use the human body, do photography and, in my case, do business. It’s everything combined, so perfect for a multitasker like me. The spiritual interest came later.
Do you have a muse? If yes, who is it and why?
Not really. Or does Mother Nature count? I don’t have just one person that inspires me, there are so many.
Who is your favorite fashion designer?
I have a few I admire. Ann Demeulemeester, Haider Ackermann and Ilaria Nistri. They know how to layer, work with comfort and still make women look edgy and mysterious.
What is so far your greatest experience in your 'fashion' career?
Without a doubt the launch of the AVADEM webshop. I started in September 2012 and in December the collection Illuminate was online and for sale. That was a happy - butterflies in my stomach -moment. After that FashionClash is a biggie!
What is on your music list while you’re making your collection?
I usually listen to my favorite playlist I call ‘Liquid’. It’s all chillstep, lounge, liquid drum ‘n bass, deep house, that sort of thing. It gets me in a sort of working-trance and focus. Plus it’s very easy listening.
What made you smile today?
I wish I could say the beautiful morning sun when I woke up, but the weather is incredibly bad in The Netherlands right now. Misty even. So this question would be it for now.
What is the latest thing you bought for yourself?
A coconut. I’m really into healthy food lately, trying to make everything myself. Not having to deal with all the artificial crap. So I bought the real deal, a tough coconut, and cracked it with a hammer. It was delicious!
What can we expect from you in the future?
I want to keep making collections in spiritual themes and convince people to dress more lounge and in layers. Besides that obtaining more selling points is a goal. So expect to see AVADEM more often!