ARRRGH! Monsters in Fashion

“ARRRGH! Monsters in Fashion” is the title of the latest exhibition at our partner Centraal Museum. The exhibition explores unconvential forms of fashion, which might be so bizarre we would label them as monstrous and ask ourselves what beauty really is. 

europeana fashion centraal museum utrecht monsters

Overview room 4. © Dea Rijper / Centraal Museum

The title of this exhibition might be slightly misleading. It’s based on the Ancient Greek meaning of the word “monster”, which differs from the meaning still in use today. “The word described everything strange that had to be given an explanation, including the astonishing, heavenly phenomena of the world and universe: anything that could not be explained,” explains the Greek collective ATOPOS cvc, which is responsible for the creative concept and design of this exhibition.

It’s a meaning proving useful for the pieces Centraal Museum exhibits until 19 January 2014. The young designers involved – renowned as well as upcoming – all created outfits that transform the human body into an unknown, bizarre, often ‘monstrous’ figure, opting for less common materials, creating odd forms and volumes, masking the face and using vibrant colours.

Room 1 © Dea Rijper / Centraal Museum

monsters europeana fashion centraal museum utrecht

Room 4 © Dea Rijper / Centraal Museum

The idea of designing wearable clothes for comfort and style appears to have been abandoned, giving creativity free rein. Many of the works seem to draw their inspiration from unrestrained fantasies fed by comics, video games or cartoons. This development coincides with the virtual lives that people now lead on the Internet: creating and developing our own avatars invites us to contemplate an alternative ‘self’.

The designs in this exhibition, although often presented as fashion, should actually be seen as artworks that question the meaning of beauty, as well as the identities we communicate with our bodies. Evidently, what is attractive in one culture, place or time, may be ugly or ‘monstrous’ in another.

bart hess centraal museum utrecht monsters europeana fashion

Pins and Needles by Bart Hess. © Dea Rijper / Centraal Museum

Four installations in the exhibition are part of Centraal Museum’s own collection. Bart Hess and Bas Kosters both created very diverse pieces especially for the occasion; respectively ‘Pins and Needles’ and ‘My Emoticon Family’. Viktor & Rolf’s 1994 installation ‘L’hiver de l’amour’ is the center piece in the first room. Two winter ’13-’14 pieces by Craig Green – a white outfit and its exact copy “shadow” in black – close the exhibition.

The museum space, designed as “invaded” by these creatures, all differ in light, colour and sound intensity, which makes a visit even more an experience difficult to forget.

Monsters in Fashion, 19 October 2013 through to 19 January 2014


europeana fashion monsters centraal musuem utrecht emoticon family bas kosters

My Emoticon Family by Bas Kosters © Dea Rijper / Centraal Museum


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