[by Marjolein] When does a dress become a gown? You’ll know after visiting the first museum exhibition of Dutch couturier Jan Taminiau (1975) in Utrecht’s Centraal Museum. ‘Our’ internationally renowned designer has a rich history of creating unique pieces for many royals and elite. Sixty gowns are now beautifully displayed together at this exhibition.
Utrecht also has a rich history. Some facts: Roman roots, city rights since the 12th century and capital under King Louis Napoleon in 1808. Of more recent times: Utrecht is the birthplace of architect Rietveld and Miffy (aka Nijntje) creator Dick Bruna. Amsterdam eat your heart out. The Centraal Museum has an 8,000 pieces fashion collection – Taminiau’s work has been part of it since 2012 – dating from the 18th century up to the present day.
Reflections by Jan Taminiau
Back to couture. The exhibition Jan Taminiau: Reflections is a visual extravaganza, just the way I like it. Art Director Maarten Spruyt is responsible for the look & feel of the exhibition. I like the first room best. Jan’s dream world. Degradé evening dresses, 3d embroidery, all full of elegant movement.
“I sometimes embroider the bodice of a dress more heavily than the skirt. If it is a dress made for dancing I give the skirt more fluidity”.
__ Jan Taminiau
I can easily see myself dancing into the night, sequins all over. A mobile construction allows for a 360 degree view of a number of dresses. By the way: the presentation is based on themes, non-chronological. Jan made the selection himself and some pieces have never before been seen in public. Special loans from home and abroad make it even better. Taminiau is known for his art of couture, a rich use of materials, combined with traditional handicraft (beads, sequins, glitter) techniques. It shows.
Queen Máxima, the royal muse
Her Majesty Queen Máxima is by far Jan Taminiau’s most famous client. And HM has been so kind to lend her most talked-about gowns (yes, plural) for the exhibition. Behind glass are the spectacular blue gown & cape as well as the ruby-red silk crepe evening dress she wore during her husband’s investiture on 30 April 2013.
And there’s more (like the post-bag jacket) out of Máxima closet that I recognize. I fight my way in (as elegant, yet persistent, as possible) through the excited crowd to see them up close. Want.
What inspires Jan Taminiau?
There are ten rooms that tell the visual story of Jan’s sources of inspiration. To name some: marbled book covers (like the catalogue of the exhibition), robots, camouflage prints, super heroines from comic books and – last but not least – his antique-dealer grandmother’s attic.
“I discovered my visual language in that attic, amongst the damaged antique objects with their faded colours.”
This reflects in each and every gown, from stunning wedding gowns to a sophisticated cocktail dress. Jan himself can be heard whilst using the free online tour. Bring along your own headset (me) or use the free ones at the museum for his master’s voice.
Due to its popularity, there are specific time slots for this mesmerizing exhibition. Easiest thing to do is buy a ticket online. Another tip, not just because of the environment, I recommend the use of the P&R De Uithof since parking near the museum is virtually impossible. Who can say no to a € 5 deal for 24h parking + free bus/tram ride? I could not, I am saving my money for my Jan Taminiau Dress Fund.
Centraal Museum Utrecht Reflections | Jan Taminiau untill August 26 buy tickets online
“As a designer my goal is to make the ultimate dress, every single time, over and over again.”
__ Jan Taminiau