Dutch, Diplomacy, Design
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Like India, we are passionate about fashion, and the Netherland's creative industry is ranked in the top ten of the world," says Alphonsus Stoelinga, Ambassador of the Netherlands to India. A statement Stoelinga has echoed since the first official announcement of the Dutch Fashion Here & Now India (DFH&NI) programme — an Indo-Dutch collaboration in association with the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) — was made on the sidelines of the Delhi Couture Week 2012 held in August.
Commissioned by the Dutch government, the DFH&NI programme has been initiated to bridge the two countries by providing "a platform for knowledge exchange, inspiration, network and opportunity development for both the Indian and Dutch fashion communities". The DFH&NI edition was held in Shanghai, previously.
Interestingly, the three-year programme with India is a follow-up to conclusions made in a fashion mapping report on India, as part of the Dutch Design Fashion & Architecture (DFNA) programme, written in 2009 by Harmeet Bajaj, also the official brand ambassador of DFH&NI. "The Dutch government has been working to promote not just fashion but also design and architecture globally. I was asked to present a report on how best India and the Netherlands could benefit from each other's creative expertise," explains Bajaj.
As the first step, designer Suneet Varma teamed up with Dutch couturier Jan Taminiau, while designer duo Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna of the label Cue partnered with Dutch label *DIED* to co-create collections under the 'Fashion Exchange Incubator' element of the DFH&NI programme. The collections were showcased on the opening night of Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week Spring- Summer 2013. Individual as well as collaborative collections were presented. Designers Diederik Verbakel and Marieke Holthuis from the Dutch fashion brand *DIED* (pronounced deed) are very pleased with the results of their coming together. "We have travelled all over the world to study local traditions, crafts and lifestyles, but India was a true eye-opener," says Verbakel.
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