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Amsterdam Fashion Week Opening Party

While I couldn’t be in AMS to attend Amsterdam International Fashion Week’s kick-off party, my friend and fellow blogger, Amber de Smet checked it out. Read her story below:


What springs to mind when I say the words ‘Holland in January’? Ice skating, frozen canals, slippery bicycle paths, snowy windmills, or perhaps… Amsterdam International Fashion Week?

This year, AIFW organised their first ever Official Opening Party in Club AIR. A public event for which I was on the guest list, thanks to my dear Canadian friend Natalie. I admit that when – in my case – your last Fashion Week experience has been a cringe-worthy Liverpool Fashion Week, it’s easy to be impressed by a nice venue. But even to Fashion Week Veterans, AIR would probably come across as one of Amsterdam’s most impressing clubs: well decorated with smooth, black walls and cleverly placed lights near reflecting surfaces. A very pretty, but very dark environment which made it nearly impossible to take decent pictures, unless you were walking around with a giant headlight taped to your camera.


I arrived early, and after a ten minute struggle with my intricate locker I decided to have a look around. Whereas I had expected the typical combination of fashionistas, bloggers and journalists, I found that the crowd was made up of a strange mix of people. Half of it consisted of older, slightly out of place fashion people and the other half consisted of ‘girls clad in black lacy thingies with a black bra underneath’, as one of my newly-made friends put it. But then again, this year’s AIFW is all about ‘Fashion is for Everyone’.

Amsterdam’s ‘Nachtburgemeester’ Mirik Milan kicked off the event with a little speech about the events of the coming week, before introducing Dutch band Daily Bread. To those who do not happen to be fluent in Dutch – the term ‘Nachtburgemeester’ is a typically Dutch phenomenon, which literally means ‘Night Mayor’. Every big city in the Netherlands has a ‘Night Mayor’, who is basically the most influential person in the city’s nightlife scene.


As Daily Bread’s final song died away, DJs Chris Julien and Bear Damen took the stage. One of my companions described their music as ‘rather unisex, because guys can dance to it too’. Which, I guess, is a good thing. Halfway the set, two dressed up acrobats even entered the stage to perform some tricks. After a while I decided it was time to leave this fashionable place again, and hop on the train back to Utrecht, with a goody bag under my arm and some good memories in my head.

Amber de Smet

Amber de Smet

On the whole, the Official Amsterdam Fashion Week Opening Party seemed like a good collaboration between music and fashion, and a nice start of this important week of the year. I’m curious to see what the rest of the week will bring.



First Impressions of the Netherlands

I’ve been in the Netherlands for almost two weeks now, and one of my first assignments for my journalism program here at HU was to describe my first impressions of the country.

I got off the train and walked along the platform. The PA system said something in Dutch, but I couldn’t understand it. I navigated my way outside of Amsterdam Centraal station and crossed the street. Out of the corner of my peripheral vision, I could see a light blue scooter coming straight at me; I didn’t realize I was standing in the bike lane as I was taking a picture like a tourist.

I walked down the street and found myself in Dam Square. A carriage horse snorted at me and I pet him. I joked that I wish I had a carrot for him as a treat. The carriage driver responded in his thick Russian accent, “He’s okay. I fed him two tourists for breakfast.”

After I left the square, the strong aroma of marijuana filled the air. It wasn’t until that moment that I thought I was in the typical party streets of Amsterdam. In the trendy 9 Straatjes, I fell in love with the boutiques, funky vintage stores and cozy cafes. I stopped in a bistro for a pumpkin soup and sipped it slowly while I admired a delicate pink tulip sitting on my table.

One of the reasons I decided to come to the Netherlands was to see the works of Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Vermeer in person. I went to the Rijks museum and spent a couple hours admiring the works of the great Dutch artist’s in the Netherlands’ golden age of the 17th century. I wasn’t prepared for the spectacle that was Rembrandt’s “Night Watch”. I couldn’t fathom how he painted something so large. It was so big that I couldn’t even capture it in its entirety with my lens.

I took my camera from the museums to the catwalk at Amsterdam Fashion Week. After attending Toronto Fashion Week for a couple of seasons, I was so excited to see what the Netherlands has to offer in the fashion and design industry. The people working the tent were very friendly. I didn’t feel like other people were criticizing my outfit or giving me the once-over. Everyone I talked to were eager to give me shopping tips! My biggest surprise however, was the way the Dutch attendees dressed. I’m used to seeing the fashionable crowd in head-to-toe labels or attention-seeking get ups that often include fur, leather bondage and armoury (but sometimes all three).  Instead, most people were wearing casual looks that were on trend, but comfy. I noticed this trend on the streets as well. Nearly everywhere I looked, people were wearing the quintessential Canadian winter-weather ensemble; shearling Ugg boots, jeans and Canada Goose down parkas. At home, I completely reject this typical style of winter dressing, so it was disappointing to see the “fashionable” Europeans embracing this North American look.

But on the catwalk, I saw very marketable and wearable clothes. The designers were conscientious about the environment, and all created beautiful clothes that didn’t ooze fashion, but exuded style. I left Amsterdam Fashion week with a few insights into the Dutch design world and celebrity culture, as I even got to see Princess Maxima, an elegant woman who was nothing short of her title.

On my way back to Amsterdam Centraal station, I was walking down the street and nearly tripped. A friendly gentleman helped me regain my balance. It was refreshing to receive help from a stranger when I’m used to witnessing pregnant women stand on the Toronto subway. Chivalry isn’t dead! And for the record, nothing will stop me from wearing 5-inch stillettos on the cobblestone streets.

Amsterdam Fashion Week Day 4: Street Style

On Saturday, I saw the Custo Barcelona show. Here are some pictures of the fashionable attendees and those involved with the show.

The Custo Barcelona show featured models in urban street wear, and I was obsessed with the models’ orange lips. This look can be brought from the runway to the sidewalk by toning down the neon effect with a matte coral or bright pink lip.

I met Mascha, whose blog, Beautygloss is the most popular beauty blog in the Netherlands. She was such a sweetheart and I’ve checked out her YouTube makeup tutorials, they seem amazing, but I wish I spoke Dutch!

This leopard coat + cat eye combo is retro and very cute.

I love her bright orange coat… I’m upset I had to leave my tangerine leather at home.

This young lady is apparently a Modeling Competition finalist. She was working the red carpet outside in a tank top. I admire her bravery!

Wearing Tony Cohen, she was on her way to the Tony Cohen show that afternoon. I love the sheer draping of her dress combined with the masculine black accessories.


Amsterdam Fashion Week – Day Two: Streetstyle

Today, I headed to Amsterdam Fashion Week.  Unfortunately, I came to early to catch Grazia Magazine’s show by Elise Kim, but I met a few people there and snapped some pictures of fashionable attendees.

I could not get over this Givenchy handbag! It had beautiful structure and contrasting details. I could only dream about owning a showpiece like this!

One trend that popped up quite a bit was the colour orange. Tangerine tango is the it-colour of 2012, according to Pantone, and it is without a doubt, the Netherlands’ signature hue. The colour popped up on accessories, from boots to scarves.

There was only a light drizzle today, but this umbrella is more about drama than functionality. His sunglasses were unlike anything I’ve seen before, and he’s got layering down pat. I’m starting to learn from Dutch people, layering is essential in this dampness!

This model-off-duty caught my eye. Very casual chic, and she’s brave to wear nylons in this cold, wet weather.

I’m in love with her rose gold collar necklace… and her simple, black Prada bag.

People in the Netherlands dress pretty different than what I’ve seen in North America. Nothing is begging for attention, and a high-quality designer handbag is the centrepiece of any outfit. I guess I’m used to seeing Torontonians decked out in crazy attire (myself included), gasping for attention when the red carpets roll out for Fashion Week. There’s a simplistic, nordic refinement to everyone’s look here.

Tomorrow, I’ll watch the Green Fashion Competition, I’m so excited to see Dutch fashion in action, so check back for more AFW coverage soon!