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Fashion designer Michael Barnaart ten years in the profession: ‘I have trouble with snobbery’

Michael Barnaart made his debut collection on the sewing machine in a student room in the Hague, but now, ten years later, you can see his designs in the Lower House.
14.03.2018 | 12:56 uur | Michel Pierre Laffite

LINDA news spoke with Michael about his career and the future: “I can look back on one big adventure. I have been given opportunities and appreciation by taking a stubborn path in the Dutch fashion landscape. “

Much achieved

Ten years ago Michael showed his debut collection during Amsterdam Fashion Week and that set the tone. In the following years he opened a store in the center of The Hague and his designs appeared on television and in the House of Representatives. His work is also exhibited in museums. Michael: “Not everything was just as easy. Graphic compositions are very important in my work. I sometimes feel more graphic designer than fashion designer. I also focus mainly on knitwear. That was not always understood in the beginning and sometimes caused criticism from the fashion world. “

Your store in The Hague is a success. Will there follow more stores below?

“I enjoy the express train I am in. As a result, I sometimes forget to look to the future. But as far as new stores are concerned, I have a little bit of a dubio. Many online orders go abroad and I have many expats as customers, so crossing the border is a logical step. On the other hand, I am very happy with my little shop in the Hofkwartier, where I live upstairs with my boyfriend Jasper and cat Doortje. Just like in a French film. I would not give this up quickly. “

Has a lot changed for you over the past ten years?

“I feel that people have become more aware of where their clothes come from. Consumers feel responsible for the downside of cheap clothing and mass production. There is also more attention for quality and local production. People are the perfect address for me. My designs are knitted and made in small quantities in the Netherlands, the garments last a long time and you can easily maintain them. After ten years, a generation of daughters has come into existence that now carry my first designs from their mother. I think that is a great compliment. “

One of the dresses that you became familiar with is the Mondrian dress. To what extent is art a source of inspiration?

“Quality, craftsmanship, art and cultural heritage are important values ​​that I like to apply in my collections. But I am not a pretentious designer who only wants to design for the happy few and I have trouble with snobbery. Piet Mondrian as well as Jan, Jans en de kinderen (Dutch comic Jack, Jackie and the juniors) are cultural heritage for me. I found it very interesting to study the work of Piet Mondrian. For example, I discovered that the well-known black lines sometimes stopped a centimeter in front of the edge of the canvas, while the color areas continued. This fact became a starting point in my Mondrian dress. The dress is still available. “

And finally: which woman would you like to spot in one of your designs?

“Ever since I saw La La Land in the cinema, I would like to see Emma Stone dancing in my flared dresses.”