Interview with Dutch designer Esther Louise Dorhout Mees
The label Dorhout Mees was founded by Dutch designer Esther Louise Dorhout Mees. After her studies at ArtEZ Academy of Arts in Arnhem and many years of working as a designer for established labels, such as Bruuns Bazaar and Tommy Hilfiger, she started her own label. Dorhout Mees is distinctive in its elegant style. It is feminine and conceptual. Organic forms contrasted sharp next to constructional forms. The base of all collections are prints, silk, wool and delicate knits. Combined with the use of wearable unconventional materials. Fascination of the constant connection between body and material, covering and uncovering of the female body is always the starting point. Contradictions in structures, silhouette and textures are the essence of the collections.
1. When and how you decided that you wanted to be a designer?
Well I did always have a very particular taste that was always different from what was already there… even when I was very young. But I never realized it in that way. I was just always trying to create my own looks and was very particular about that for as long As I can remember. I started making my own dresses when I was 7. I loved to draw, still do. So that’s what I thought I would do for the rest of my life when I was really young… design came together a bit later I guess.. but it was always in there, so I don’t even remember a time when I didn’t already know in a way.. isn’t that strange?
2. It was your dream job?
I am living my dream job. It has to be, more even, it needs to be the deepest of passions, like a love affair. If not you’ll never make it in the long run…
3. Which is the first thing you designed and for who ?
Depends on how far back you’d like to go (laughs). My earliest memory was around the age of 7, when I made a top and skirt to be worn together and then hand printed a flowery print on them. Wore it proudly all summer.
4. Who’s the designer you admire the most and why?
I admire many designers in fashion, but also in architecture, interior, art for many different reasons, something that goes so far beyond ‘taste’ or my own preferences.. I admire storytelling, substance, craftsmanship, a unique view of the world.. there really isn’t just one favorite. However if you ‘d like me to name somebody, I admire Haider Ackermann very much, I think you can truly deeply ‘feel’ his work and craftsmanship, love of material and life..
5. Who’s your muse, your icon, when you create a dress?
Not one person in particular. But woman in general. Woman that dare to go after their dreams and aspirations without apologizing for them. Knowing how to realize them. Dare to stand out of a crowd and feel comfortable doing so, expressing who they truly are.. In whatever way that may be. That is my inspiration… It is for her that I create, and she can be of any age and come from anywhere…
6. If you had to design an entire collection using just one color, which is the one you’d pick and why?
I love colors, so that is a difficult one. But I think a very soft skin-colored pink. It is a color that is often at the base of any DORHOUT MEES collection, because it is so personal and intimate. It is close to the skin, that makes it more fragile. At the same time it will create the focus on the silhouette, which can be far from the shapes of the body.. That would be interesting.
7. Who’s the first person you show your sketches to?
Nobody. I like to be alone when I am designing. Don’t want anybody looking over my shoulder until I feel I am done. Off course after that the collection will go through a whole new transformation and development when it is created in material. So the whole collection in sketches will eventually be seen first by my Atelier..
8. The fabric you love the most…silk, lace, velvet and why?
Silk, it is the base of all my collections. I love all natural materials though..But silk is so feminine, fluent on the one hand and can be very strong as well, I love the different textures within the one material.
9. If your clothes had a soundtrack, which songs you’d choose?
Love this question! I think the soundtracks would be different per collection, as they are all their own stories really… But since you are asking me in this moment, today I would say Lykke Li, Velvet Stairs, Troye Sivan, Jaque Brell, Damien Rice. Just to name a few.
10. Do you have any trick to avoid that “blank page” moment when you’re at the beginning of the designing of a new collection? Do you watch a movie, flip an old magazine…
Dare I say it.. I am not familiar with that. At all.. I feel that inspiration is in everything at any moment anywhere. Where ever you look. For me it is sometimes the other way around, I can’t stop thinking about it, seeing things, drawing things up in the middle of the night, dinners or conversations.. I sometimes think of what that must be like for the people around me.. however I think by now they understand or at least… are used to it.
11. If you weren’t a designer which job in the fashion world you would like to do and why?
I would be a visual story teller in a different way, like photographer or full time film maker. Even though I do both now as well.. but my focus would be on those full time then.
by Gioia Gange