1883 Magazine

Colette Vermeulen studied Fashion Design in her native Netherlands before going on to tackle the prestigious Masters course at the Royal College of Art in London. With internships at established labels such as Acne already under her belt, her accomplished yet playful MA womenswear collection showed promise with a colourful collage of fabrics and textures. We took a few moments to delve into the creative mind of a young designer who is surely one to watch.


When did you know you wanted to become a designer?

I remember always feeling unsatisfied by the way I looked and dressed and I think I always was a bit of an outsider, but I never really had the guts to stand out and dress differently. I could get really frustrated if I had something in mind that I wanted to wear but couldn’t find anywhere. At the foundation course we didn’t have many classes in fashion, but I was really curious so I decided to just try it and apply and I was accepted. I loved it from the first minute and never had any doubts about doing something else. 

Your MA collection focused on colour and texture. What was the inspiration behind the collection?

I mainly looked at American photographers like William Eggleston and Joel Meyerowitz. It was the raw and innocent atmosphere in their photographs that I was drawn to. The colour and flower print were inspired by a vintage headscarf I found in my great aunt’s old wardrobe. The DIY element and rawness were inspired by a book about seventies denim and how people customized their denim jackets and jeans in the most amazing ways- very crafty but beautiful. I wanted to show a great richness, colour and depth whilst remaining raw and naive.


Do you design and create the print and embroidery yourself?

I collaborated with three amazing textiles students- Sophie Manners made a beautiful handwoven flower fabric for me, Tiphaine Alston handprinted a bold lilac check print and Alice Archer helped me with a digital velvet stitch embroidery. I also developed digital embroidery and woven jacquards at the Audax Textile Museum in the Netherlands. But I always manipulated those fabrics again by hand afterwards. Like hand embroidery on top of the woven jacquards and digital embroidered denim that I punctured and frayed, and hand weaving that I did myself on a children’s loom. It is really imported to me to show the manual labour and artisan aspects of the design, because that is what makes your ideas unique in a time where everything is produced so quickly, often in poor quality and people sometimes forget how things are made and how much work goes into making something.

Your line of handbags is quite minimal and androgynous in comparison to your colourful MA show. Does a particular style come more naturally to you?

I started my bags right after I graduated from my BA. It came very naturally to me to make those in a minimal and clean way because I was looking for a bag myself and couldn’t find anything within my price range that wasn’t made out of ugly material or over-designed. Because I need to produce loads of them, I have to think practically and the simplistic designs make the most sense and it turned out to be very successful. I also really enjoy using a lot of colour and texture, so I think I need to do both in order to stay happy. 


You previously interned with Bruno Pieters, who recently returned from a two-year sabbatical from the fashion industry- something that highlights the stress of the job. What aspects of the industry do you dislike and how do you deal with the pressure?

The pressure I feel most is always wanting to make something better, to improve your own work. In that way it’s a pressure we put on ourselves and it is completely exhausting. I dream about garment finishings at night and if I ever go on holiday I see interesting details, colour combinations or textures everywhere. It’s what makes it super exciting, but it can also be frustrating and draining.

A lot of people say that in order to survive in the fashion industry you need to be a real bitch. I’m not really impressed by that. I try to surround myself with people that I trust and believe in, to treat people the way I want to be treated and not to be intimidated by people with big egos.

Many designers cite music as a constant influence on their designs. What are you listening to at the moment?
I always listen to music when I’m working. All kinds of different music, from old country to hip hop. At the moment I listen to the new album of Neil Young and Crazy Horse. And Beachwood Sparks!

If you didn’t study fashion, what career would you have pursued?
I want to be a country singer! 

And finally, where are your pieces stocked?
At the moment I only sell my bags, both on my website and in several stores, mainly in Berlin but I’m working at selling in shops in Amsterdam and London as well.


Words: Amy Lynam
Photography: Saty + Pratha
Fashion: Chad Burton
Makeup: Tomohiro Muramatsu using Mac Pro
Hair: Masato Inoue using Bumble & Bumble

Model: Brynja @ Next
Shoes: Kurt Geiger and Jimmy Choo



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