â€œWomen who exude power are also sexy. They do not necessarily have to be the head of a multinational; there is also power in the little things.â€ These are the words of Marlies Dekkers, the famous and infamous Dutch designer whose â€œlittle thingsâ€ are namely lingerie. A courter of controversy and a pusher of boundaries, empowering women everywhere, Dekkers has spent years making very sexy waves in the world of underwear.
The show began in 1991 when Dekkers paraded her graduation project â€œbare bottom dressâ€ through the streets of the red light district in Amsterdam, deliberately playing with the notions of "the gaze" and the objectification and empowerment of women. Now in 2008 she is celebrating 15 years of her own design label with a retrospective show in Rotterdam's Kunsthal.
The show takes a journey through the various inspirations of Dekkers, from high renaissance art amd bondage to architecture and theater performance. Ideas of eroticism, femininity and control run throughout the differently themed spaces. Most important, the concept of hiding and revealing makes intimate parts of the body at once more mysterious and more of a feature. As she says, "Just as in the past a glimpse of an ankle or wrist was erotic, I aim to make breast look erotic again, even after topless fashion and feminism."
Dekker's iconic imagery visualizes the ingenuity of her highly structured underwear and swimwear, but it can only really be fully appreciated on the body. It's the experience of wearing a Marlies Dekkers design that really completes the power she invests in her art. While clearly a very talented designer Dekkers, is also a very successful business woman, winning the Prix Veuve Clicquot for Businesswoman of the Year in 2007. This experimentation and innovation combined with commercial success is what makes her brand so exceptional.
Catch the last two days of the retrospective this weekend (see details below) or visit Marlies Dekkers stores in Holland, Antwerp, Berlin, Paris and Bangkok.