Dutch fashion designer Antoine Peters clearly enjoys playing with proportions. The silhouettes of his clothes – extruded arms, asymmetrical tucks and tapers, as well as exaggerated knits and graphics – are a complication of the human anatomy that simultaneously compliment it. Having studied at the Art Academy and the Fashion Institute in Arnhem and worked for Viktor & Rolf, Peters recently presented his Fall/Winter 08-09 collection, entitled “Fat People are Harder to Kidnap,” on a phalanx of mannequins with duct-taped mouths at the Milk Gallery in the Meatpacking District during this May’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair. "For me fashion is always a little bit of a party," Peters says. "Everybody calls my work ‘street’ but I hate the word ‘street.’ I try to make the clothes more elegant and feminine through draping." His S/S 2009 collection will be presented on July 26, during Amsterdam Fashion Week at the AIFW in the Westergasterrein. Its title – “To Make an Elephant out of a Mosquito” – again places the emphasis on scale, proportions -– and dry wit. He talks about his current and upcoming collections . antoinepeters.com, amsterdamfashionweek.com
Why did you name this collection “Fat People are Harder to Kidnap?” It’s a funny title but it’s also dark since the models walked down the catwalk with their mouths duct-taped shut.
My work is a search for playfulness, naivety, social criticism, open-mindedness, self-mockery and fantasy. More serious matter is brought up in a light manner, creating a new unbiased perspective as a result. It has depth without instantly annoying you with an overkill of intellect and reasoning. If you want, there’s more to discover, but you definitely don’t have to. My whole presentation argues for being fat, but with a slightly ironic tone. The humor ensures that even a concept like ‘Fat people are harder to kidnap’ didn’t offend anyone and people look at it with other eyes.
I don’t mind adding some darker parts because I don’t want my collections to be just a “circus.” And happy stuff will look happier next to not so happy stuff. I want to tell a story that can be interpreted in different ways. I want people to walk out of my show and ask themselves what they have seen and answer themselves "I don’t know yet, but I like it!"
It looks as if you really like to play with proportions, scale and unconventional draping in your work. What inspired this collection specifically and where did you get these crazy proportions and shapes?
I love to play with extremes and proportions in material, print, silhouette and concept. For the FAT collection it resulted in the ancient question “thick versus thin.” My designs have a lightness of concept, but also literally in the clothing itself. By amalgamating these extremes, it’s my goal to try to create a refreshing, playful elegance, in which I’m especially interested in the draping and direction of the material. I like silhouettes because they already communicate from afar. It’s the first impression of an outfit. And when you come close you see the details or what the print or seams are built out of.
My designs are often based upon the classics in MY eyes – the t-shirt, the jeans and the sweater – I inject these with a huge dose of elegance by means of pattern techniques, draping and mixing materials. It’s not “street,” it even sort of offends me when it’s called that, because there is so much more going on and people don’t pay attention but there is certainly some street mentality in the clothes.
The graphics on your textiles are really colorful and add a lot to the designs. Do you design your own fabrics?
My girlfriend, Karen van de Kraats, who is a graphic designer, helps me to develop and sharpen the ideas that I have but all graphics are my own design. I’m quite graphical in the way I think about design and I have ideas about all layers of fashion. That’s one of the reasons I love it so much, because it combines all these disciplines.
The graphics are always there at the beginning of a collection and are one of the base ingredients. They even influence the designs. I play with the placing, direction, pattern making. In the next collection (“To Make an Elephant out of a Mosquito”) the graphic will be even more in service of the draping.
In the graphics I also play with extremes. In the FAT collection I used an actual-size ransom letter typeface [letters arbitrarily cut out from newspapers], which spelled out the collection title. But there also was this blown-up version that only spelled out FAT!, but was blown up so big that you didn’t see the letters anymore. I also always put my logo in the graphic in a funny and almost hidden way so only when people look really close do they discover it’s my design.