What this fashion professional wears behind-the-scenes and on the job
White Space, the studio of artist and jewelry designer Bibi van der Velden, at first glance looks a bit monumental, yet Bibi’s presence lights up the room immediately. She pulls some clothing out of her bag while today she’s dressed casually in just a grey tee, jeans, velvet slippers and of course adorned with her own statement jewelry.
A force to be reckoned with, Bibi is known from London (where her collection is also sold at concept store Dover Street Market) to Milan, when it comes to jewelry design. Small trinklets and jewels of her own may remind you a little of fossils from ancient times and are spread out everywhere in Bibi’s studio. She loves a vintage quality, a touch of 20s, yet her designs always remain contemporary with a sculptural twist. “Fashion always needs to have a certain synergy with art so it will capture a story and it won’t get lost in momentary trends.” Wonderfully refined drawings, a huge rock (or actually crystal pendant) and a tiny, silver hand to put around your ring finger, this jewelry portrays intimate fairytales that bring you closer to its creator.
Describe your personal style?
“I would say an eclectix mix of vintage with tough looking basics, clothing that I customize myself with sometimes a subtle shimmer or shine.”
Could you name some items from your wardrobe with a story to them?
“Many of the items that I collected over the years I do associate with a certain story. I still own this blazer that features an emblem from when I was a young girl going to school in England. While I was only eight years at the time and the jacket no longer fits me, it is still a prized possession. Also, I used to have this obsession for Donna Karan. At thirteen years of age I went to America where I stayed at this shopaholic who took me to pretty much any outlet in town. In one of those outlets I bought a military cardigan by DKNY for 80 dollars (which was a huge amount of money for me, yet really was the bargain of the year) that I still wear sometimes.”
Which decade from the past century do you love style wise?
“I could take something extraordinary out of pretty much any period from history. A lot of different decades appeal to me. I love the 20s a lot and art deco, because of this stylized extravagance. I am fascinated with anything Cartier designed in the 20s. Cigarette cases, combs, lighters that are covered in diamonds and beautiful stones. It was a time when the younger generation was tired of the First World War and therefore went wild. The upswing of Chanel, corsets were suddenly out of fashion and flapper dresses all the rage. It was also a superficial time though that resulted in the Second World War.”
Do you also happen to collect (fashionable) objects?
“All my life I have been a collector and I gather collections of things that are really rather bizarre. As props for my shows, exhibitions and shoots I own these endless collections of vintage fashion; bow ties, feathers, old hats. My studio is almost exploding as well as our huge freezer. I am quite scared of moths and therefore I freeze all the old stuff I buy immediately.”
Why does jewelry design suit you so well?
“I am very much a 3D thinker and from when I was little I just knew I wanted to do something with sculpture. I was lucky that my mother is a sculptor and therefore I already got to know a lot about the trade. The combination of sculpture and jewelry design fits me well, because it really compliments each other. On the one side it’s physical and grand versus technical and sometimes with microscopic detail.”
What would be a dream collaboration for you in the field of design/art?
“I would love to one day create a site specific work for a gallery like the Gagosian in New York.”
Have a look behind-the-scenes of this shoot with Bibi van der Velden now on The Digitalistas.
Ph/ Marlis Sluijter