Hellen Van Rees
Hellen van Rees, a passionate maverick compelled to veer from traditional paths, is a breath of fresh air in a sometimes all-too-predictable industry. Balancing environment, elegance and exceptional production has become her forte. Highly educated and daring, she's created a vibrant, timeless, hand-made organic textile line with 10 collections, all of which are filled with tremendous, undeniable variety from scratch. Starting with yarn and thread, she weaves pieces that are avant-garde and innovative and soft and luxurious in equal measure. This is a label for the discerning woman who values quality, innovation and distinction.
Hailing from the quaint town of Gouda in the Netherlands, which boasts a population of 70,000, a 15th century town hall complete with red and white shutters and a former cheese-weighing station (now home to the Gouda Cheese Museum), Hellen van Rees spent her childhood in constant creativity mode. Moving into fashion seemed natural as it contained all the elements of creativity. Over the years her style developed organically and without conscious intention. Fascinated with deconstructing and reconstructing materials, she allowed herself to explore contemporary art and its influence on textiles though earlier work tended to be centred around shape and texture; the abstract. Later, after much research into womenswear, a beautiful clothing line came to life. With a strong conviction that clothing should tell the story of its creation, she believes it's her responsibility to make luxury sustainable and is well known for her critical approach to consumerism, using organic textiles and production leftovers. Today, she's added interiors and accessories, offering a total brand-experience to buyers.
In a former dancing room, her atelier in Hengelo is situated in a monumental school built in 1962; from there she spends her days creating designs, patterns, manufacturing samples and handling her own production. Managing her PR and business herself, she faces all the typical issues of the industry (deadlines and competition to name just two). Transitioning from designer to businesswoman had its challenges because there's no manual for the basics. She had to get her head down and figure it all out by doing research. It paid big dividends; in February this year she presented a new collection at Paris Fashion Week and London Fashion Week at the Ham Yard Hotel in Soho, as well as the Milan Fashion Week in September.
The showcased images displayed here are from her A/W'13 SQUARE3 ANGLE: THE TRANSFORMATION which sees Hellen van Rees continue the ideas born in her graduate collection: the same handmade tweed fabrics created using factory remnants and recycled threads, with the same three-dimensional threaded blocks creating a playful and futuristic silhouette. This season's collection is an exploration into what happens when yarns of all colours are combined in one textile resulting in tweeds of new blends and colour combinations.
Hellen also uses new materials with this season's collection - a pitch black and bright white rubber-coating to create a stark contrast with the vibrant multicolour handmade tweeds. Combined with silhouettes inspired by classic Chanel twin suits and contemporary art installations results in a visually strong but surprisingly wearable collection.
Hellen has a Bachelors of Arts in Fashion Design and a Masters of Arts in Fashion Womenswear and you can learn more about this talented and prolific designer by visiting www.hellenvanrees.com
Written by Summer Crosbie for VMM
All images by Hellen Van Rees
Published in VMM Showcase issue circa 2013