The very talented, very friendly couture designer, Hendrik Vermeulen, believes in supporting locally South African made products first. Hendrik has showcased internationally with his stunning designs, such as New York and Rome. In South Africa, he says there are many artists, and even if you’re struggling, it can be the one thing that challenges you enough to really put your creativity to work.
Hendrik again confirms, how in the art-fields and industries, collaboration is amazing, bringing different sets of skills and talents together. What a great inspirational man.
If you had to describe your favourite thing about working with fabric and material, and do you have a least favourite thing…? My favourite thing about working with fabrics and material is the “almost” endless possibilities available to manipulate and work the different types of fabrics (Wool, Silks, Linen etc) and material like the leather, rubber, plastic and more… I see material as “clay” and I’m always trying to sculpt the material like I would do with clay. The least favourite thing I have about fabrics? They sometimes don’t LISTEN!!!
Did you become an artist by chance? Was it something you always tried and had talent for, or did it find you in an odd way…? No, I did not become an artist by chance; it has been a long process since I was 6 years old… I have always pushed myself further than expected and have accepted the challenges that life presented me as opportunities to grow and develop myself…
Is designing, or working with material- and fabrics, an everyday practise for you, does it fill up your life? I don’t know if all artists are the same, but I live through my art; I have hobbies that I enjoy; I write songs and I play music, I love having people over for a braai… But, yes… It is a passionate passion that I have for the art of couture! A passion fuelled by the response from my fans and clients, by the challenges that I impose to myself almost on a daily basis… My drive to perfection is perhaps what led me so far…
So every time you stand with uncut, new fabric in your hands – where does your mind go…how does it get from mere fabric to something you’re proud of, what makes it beautiful, for you? What makes it beautiful is the art of working the fabric to achieve the most beautiful “tombé” (fall) or to manipulate it in a way never yet done. The more elaborated the process, the more contentment is felt. Though, the most simplistic looking dresses are always the most difficult to achieve perfectly.
Would you like to still be doing what you’re doing until the end of time? I wish that I will be able to create exceptional garments to the end of my time; I will do my best to keep true with my ethics and to remain authentic. When asked to look back, I can see a clear progression in my style and my approach to the realisation of garments yet, I do not deny any of my previous work. I am simply evolving…
What is your most prized possession? My most prized possession is my talent and as much as I am keen to share it whenever possible; I wouldn’t part myself of it.
How alive is art still? To me, the art of couture has to be recognised and honoured since it is no longer essential for anyone to have garments “made to measure” except in certain unfortunate cases. It is therefore time to recognise Couture as an art form. Fashion is boring, so much so that it has to change every three months. Couture makes people dream and that is in fact priceless.
In 5 years from now – where would Hendrik’s mind have wandered, and what would your ultimate goal for then be? My partner, Jean-Daniel always reminds me that art cannot be confined into one place; so, I guess that we are now dedicated to a worldwide audience and clientele. I wouldn’t be surprised if in five years from now we would have established another atelier somewhere in Europe. Though, I know that I will keep my headquarters in South Africa for as long as I can for I am proudly South African.
Do you believe in collaboration, WOULD you like to collaborate in the future with other artists? In South Africa, we are blessed with so many artists; artists that are struggling without knowing that the struggle is actually forcing them to go beyond the expected unlike in developed countries where comfort has killed the creativity. Things are changing fast and more and more young artists are proudly coming to the surface; it is both refreshing and encouraging. We are pro collaboration and have already had several joint ventures with other artists; collaborations work very well with like-minded people.
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As much as one can and provided that the quality required is delivered, please always support first the Made in South Africa products. This will help our economy to grow and it will keep our country as the leading one in the African continent.