BRAND NAME|FRANCISCO VAN BENTHUM
NUMBER OF SEASONS|12
Arnhem, The Netherlands—How did your interest in fashion design begin? How did your education at Arnhem of Art and Design shape you as a designer?
When I was a child I knew that I would end up in a creative profession. I was always busy with clothes and dressing myself up. When I was 12-years-old I was able to actually sew together a denim shirt, and then I discovered that fashion design was an actual profession and that there was something like a fashion design school…..then it was easy!
I am absolutely shaped as an all-around designer through my education at the fashion department in Arnehm. I was extensively educated on the technical part - pattern making, molding and construction. This has always been a very important base, especially in menswear.
Your design resume is quite diverse: assisting for Joe Casely-Hayford, SO by Alexander van Slobbe, and designing sportswear brands, such as G-Star and Puma. How has this variety shaped your creative process?
In the end, it is all about the same thing: visualizing the message, and being as creative as possible within the frame. For brands like G-Star and Puma, it has always been the special projects that needed to be more directed toward fashion anyway. The good thing about all these different companies is getting experience in dealing with deadlines, company structures and, most of all, the getting in contact with all of the specific knowledge.
Your personal collection is quite driven by old school haute couture. What led you in this direction?
For me, the construction and the shape of the old school haute couture, like Balenciaga or Dior, is still very inspiring. I think, for most designers, this is the case. It is not that I use these techniques the same way. It is more that I interpret them in my own way and include them in my designs.
Define the perfect Francisco Van Benthum guy.
I happen to have a quite broad target group - the younger fashionista all the way to the established lawyer. The guy that wears FVB is fashion conscious and is very much aware of what he would like to wear and what suits him the best.
Masculinity in America is quite different than masculinity in Europe. Your collection, being somewhat soft and romantic, seems to test these definitions. Is that a conscious effort?
For me, playing with masculinity and what you call soft has always been a very important part of my work. It is all about playing with the codes within the masculine way of dressing and trying to find and stretch borders by letting the softness become part of it, through colors, materials, fabrics and shapes. It is all about trying to spark tension within menswear.
What and who inspire you?
I work very visually, meaning that I take inspiration from images and movies. There is not really a line in there; I start with 0 every new season. The pick of images or the kind of feel comes very intuitively.
The craftsmanship and quality of your clothing are exquisite. Why do you think it is important to keep production at such a high standard?
That’s what I can offer as a designer. It is my tool, and my clients request the highest quality. In my opinion, craftsmanship and tailoring is the base of every single design. Especially within menswear, it is more about nuances; fit and proportion are the golden rule.
For the runways, the vision of young, slim guys wearing the collections is still the ideal image. Do you think that will change? In real life, most of these young men cannot afford these clothes, and the men that can purchase these clothes are not the same, both in appearance and body type. Why do you think designers and fashion editors prefer this type of model over the men you see everyday?
For me, it is completely the same as what happens in women’s wear, where you see the slim girls. How many actual slim girls are there in real life? We now find it beautiful to see the collections worn by slim models. It will absolutely change again. If we in 5 years think that garments look best on mature women and guys….you’ll see them ruling the catwalk!
In what direction do you see yourself taking your brand in the near future? Have you considered introducing it to the American market? How would you do so?
America is on my wish list. I would love to start selling my collection there. For me, it is important to take it step-by-step. I’m just waiting for that right moment, that opportunity of meeting that person who can introduce the label to the US.
When not designing, what do you do with your free time?
Fashion is 24/7. If you are running a label and own a business, there is simply no spare time. I envy the people that are able to do this and have hobbies on the side. Well done…
What is your life motto?
Follow your ambitions, and be true to yourself.