is nada van dalen the dutch answer to hood by air?

Tomorrow, Nada van Dalen is planning a piece of radical fashion performance on the streets of Rotterdam. Ahead of the happening i-D catches up with the hardcore Dutch designer.

by Channa Brunt
09 April 2015, 6:08pm

Welcome to the dark, hardcore world of Nada van Dalen. A world that is steadily seeping out into the world via the web from her modest studio in Rotterdam. A world that is composed of hardcore, hip hop, porn, philosophy, and misery.

Nada is a Rotterdam-based designer/artist/filmmaker who embraces the dark recesses of her mind and uses them in her work. In 2007 she founded her own clothing label and has been running it on her own ever since. This Friday she'll have Rotterdam shake on its foundations: 100 models, 10 cars with blasting stereos, 10 French bulldogs, the streets of the city center as the catwalk, with a soundtrack by hardcore veteran DJ Distortion. "Lots of noise," is how Nada sums it up.

While she and her four trainees ("I give them clothes and food, it's the least you can do if you don't pay them") finalize the 100 outfits that will be sent onto the streets of Rotterdam tomorrow, Nada spoke to us about her bizarre world.

In many of your texts you talk about your dark side. When did you embrace this dark side of yourself?
I've acknowledged the dark side basically all my life. As a child, I was already attracted to death and graveyards. I think it was the second year I was studying fashion design that I started using it consciously in my work. That was the year I got an anxiety disorder and started to think that there were other universes. The feeling of a David Lynch movie is in my head every day. I hate it but I do not wanna lose it at the same time. It's safe for me.

Why did you decide to translate this to clothing?
Mostly because of the aversion I have to the fact that everything always has to be perfect and beautiful. I always think about those girls with flowers on their bikes, it really gives me the creeps. My first collection in which I processed this was about places and how your breath changes in different places. For example when you get a panic attack or start hyperventilating... That collection was also linked to the singer Nico, from The Velvet Underground, who I find really cool because she always said she didn't wanted to be seen as beautiful.

What does the sunny side of your life look like?
That's very corny: love. And my course work. Oh, and Coco, my dog! It's also the little moments - that time a beautiful light reflects on a wall...

Photography Jan-Willem Ploegers

In one of the texts on your website you say how people experience brief moments of happiness and then are unhappy because they are constantly looking for that same happiness...
Happiness should overwhelm you, like love and death. These are things that just happen. Life is only comforting when life falls into a strange, right way. You can feel it happening for a short moment of time, this moment is burned into your brain and comes back once in a while. It's not a feeling of laughing or crying. It's a feeling of total happiness. I think we are looking for this feeling all the time. And when we do that, we can't find it and we get unhappy. We try to find it in love, money, work, family, in other people that look like they always have it, and we forget to look around us.

Are you a happier person because you realize that?
Yeah, I'm not constantly waiting for happiness. Eventually you will only experience happiness when you know unhappiness. I'm familiar with both unhappiness and with happiness. Unhappiness is something that will teach you things - it made me mature and smarter, it made me push through work wise.

Photography Jan-Willem Ploegers

For an art installation you had sex in front of the camera with your boyfriend Jan-Willem. My parents would have a heart attack. What are your parents like?
I come from an artistic family - my father is an artist who has been teaching at an art school for 32 years, and my mother works in an art library. It is a somewhat anomalous family. I grew up surrounded by pretty strange people. 

Your collections are a response to a world that wants to be perfect and pretends to be so - you want to show imperfections and form a more realistic image of beauty. How important is this to you?
Very important. My clothes won't make you beautiful if you use the clichéd image of beauty. I'm also like that - I'm not someone who makes herself prettier. At the same time, I think this contradiction is really cool: people think I'm a scary girl and when they meet me, they are like, "Ah, you're actually really sweet!" I try to show it in my clothes too. I take my distance, look at it as an outsider, and challenge it. I want to take negative traits and appearances and elevate them as beautiful.

Is it provocative?
No, it's just Nada.

Photography Jan-Willem Ploegers


Text Channa Brunt
Images courtesy Nada van Dalen
Photography lookbook Jan-Willem Ploegers

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