Former student Kate Antonenko designs dress from building fabric

1 Sep 2022 20:00 | Communication

At the annual opening of the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS), singer Maud Brugmans performed in a dress designed by former AMFI student Kate Antonenko. The dress was made from material used as shielding during construction of the Jakoba Mulder building. The dress is intended as a tribute to the Ukrainian women fighting in the war against Russia.

Kate Antonenko graduated from the Amsterdam Fashion Institute in 2014. She explains: ‘The theme for this specific dress was supposed to be larger than life. Freedom is larger than life, and the war in Ukraine is happening right now; something I hadn’t foreseen at my graduation. This I why I decided I would choose the same subject and recycle my graduation collection. Plus, it would be sustainable to reuse the old materials rather than choose new ones, and my graduation collection would otherwise only be gathering dust in storage. I recycled the fabric of my old collection and combined it with the AUAS construction site banners that I was given.

This dress, which soprano Maud Brugmans is wore during the opening, is a tribute to women at war. Women who are fighting, trying to protect their children, or have to flee. The dress shows the wounds and scars left by war; to emphasise this, I used a stapler. The painted flowers are made from the cotton of my old collection. This makes the dress extra dramatic; the flowers represent women's feelings for their loved ones.

Sustainability is very important within all projects at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute. As students, we were really on a mission to make the fashion industry better and cleaner. With each study project, you had to convince the professors that it was necessary to make new clothes, and present a strategy to do so.

I try to carry this ambition into my daily work as well. I now work at PVH, a Tommy Jeans brand, where I design outerwear for women. I try to design as sustainably as possible, using recycled and organic materials where possible. I also create multifunctional designs, which are reversible, for example, and designed to last.

Making fashion sustainable is a difficult and complex task. What we can at least change is our attitude and way of thinking. We can ask ourselves how many things we really need to buy. And by making products better, they last longer and there is less waste. With this dress, I want to encourage this way of thinking, and also support Ukraine in its fight for freedom.’

Former student Kate Antonenko designs dress from building fabric