Christian Lagerwaard has been working in fashion since the 1980s, making a splash with his use of natural fabrics and winning the prestigious Prix Guy Laroche. Hailing from the Netherlands – having dressed members of the Dutch royal family – he is today based in Paris and Maastricht, designing for his own label. Christian is advising students at the French design school ESMOD for Couture in Orbit; he explains how a long-standing interest in hi-tech got him involved.
To start with, I’d already used hi-tech textiles and fibres from 1999 to 2004. In that time it was mostly about doing research on new fabrics that had just entered the fashion market, or were yet to be considered to be used for fashion items. Some fabrics made it into the collections, though other candidates could not meet the criteria I’d put onto the wearable and washable side of the designs. Nowadays the fibres and fabrics are more sophisticated – and usable in daily life.
After using quite a lot of new, mostly synthetic-based fabrics, I discovered that the natural-based fabrics industry was developing their own counterparts to help keep up with demand for new products. For me it was like falling in love again, with a new version of my first choices of quality fabrics when I started to design in the 1980s. I use these fabrics mainly for couture collections today. Still, I often take a look at hi-tech fibres and materials that are very interesting for high-quality products. Due to the rapid development of all kinds of fibres, we are arriving at products that could scan our health during work or other situations that might need extra monitoring of the human body.
My interest is ongoing – when possible I coach students at Eindhoven University. Mostly the projects involve the implementation of hi-tech products into fashion. This can also mean the development of use of special fibres and microscale electronics. So it felt quite comfortable to get involved with ESA’s Couture in Orbit. As a fan of various arts that are influenced by sci-fi, gadgets and space in general I already knew about ESA. And talking to students, discussing their ideas and also looking for answers to their design issues is one challenge I gladly accept.
Somehow I like the idea that it broadens my way of connecting with the contemporary. And I like to think that the students and the Dutch-based suppliers need someone to function as a bridge between fashion and hi-tech developments. Take JOHAN Sports, developing wearable tracking systems for field sports. Although very well thought through in many ways and aspects, the fashion students can need help understanding the technical context, and are looking for more insights into how this technology can be applied to fashion for use in daily life.