Julie Verhoeven is known for working in numerous ways across fashion and design, from illustration to creative direction and design consultancy. Both her passion and talent ofdrawing is always at the heart of her work. A 1987 gratuade of Medway College (now Kent Institute), Julie began her career as first design assistant to John Galliano, continuing this role with Martine Sitbon in Paris. She went on to head Italian brand Gibo.
Since then she collaborated on fashion projects on international fashion brands including Louis Vuitton and Mulberry and counts on regular contributions regularly to the most innovating publications around the globe. From May 25th until September 8th 2013, the Stedelijk Museum’s Hertogenbosch presents her latest project, under the title Your Fly is Open, an installation consisting of three videos, in which Verhoeven refers to jewellery and ceramics from the museum’s collection.
Verhoeven herself describes the piece, with its extravagant and disturbing sensuality, evoked by the various projections, music, cushions and coloured fabrics, as a combination of ‘Barbara Cartland’s boudoir and a disco-hippy’s den’.
Verhoeven portrait by Inga Powilleit/production Tatjana Quax.
FilepMotwary: You are currently presenting your latest installation project “ YOUR FLY IS OPEN” at Stedelijk Museum ‘s-Hertogenbosch. It is about three videos.. At a first glance, it s a combination of moving images featuring naked bodies, color, music, fabrics… What is your project about?
JulieVerhoeven: The director of the museum, Rene Pingen, invited me to respond through the medium of video, permanent collection of ceramics and jewellery. I wanted to blatantly use the nude form as a promotional tool to sexualise the collection in a somewhat camp fashion, as you might imagine a rather naff pop video. It’s quite a brazen, tabloid, use of the body, as an object for display. I wanted the results to be lush and pleasing on the eye, yet gently troubling.
FM: How does sensuality serve creativity?
JV: Its a life force that feeds its with vigor.
FM: And what is the role of gender in these videos?
JV: I enjoyed playing with female gender roles and feminine clichés. I wanted to present a platter of tasty offerings. Reverse psychology of sorts for mass-market appeal.
FM: Do you think of this project as something about the two sexes, as a pair walking down the street, getting married or are they separate?
JV: There is no narrative or malleable logic, as such. It’s just a visual stream of consciousness strung together through instinct and chance.
FM: You were born with a natural “hand” talent. How do you see the use of “future” references and approach in fashion in combination with technology?
JV: I just hope for a brain transplant in the future to grant me fast track access to a natural understanding and affinity with technology and consequently use this tool to greater effect.
FM: How does it feel to expose each new project you finish? Which have been some of your most significant or revealing projects?
JV: It’s always such a relief to finish. A short high follows by a short low and then a very brutal, slamming the door shut on that project. I hope the latest work is always where I am being the most honest.
FM: What do they reveal of Julie, the person? Why should an art-piece be considered as important?
JV: Suppressed anger overshadowing a sunny disposition and rather crass showgirl tendencies
FM: Do you think the element of today’s over-exposure is influencing the role of the artist? How?
JV: I do believe that any output with integrity or intrigue, however subtle or extreme, would be remembered, or at least noticed amongst the gluttony.
FM: You started your career as an illustrator for John Galliano. Since then you have published books, collaborated with some of the most prestigious houses, artists… What does the term “illustration” means to you today?
JV: The word instantly gets my back up because it suggests performing a function and I am becoming too selfish and spoiled to deliver.
FM: Following your work for many years, allow me to say there is a pride and softness, something very fragile in the way you adhere to your instincts. How would you define the way your work and what we see as your work?
JV: Without wishing to sound pompous, my work is the most definitely the most interesting thing about me. Without it I have very little to say and am rather dull and flat.
FM: There is a very specific way you create your characters. How do you take something that feels somehow familiar and make it new?
JV: I just choose to look and see and absorb as much as my brain can take in, in the hope that once sieving through the system, something exits that is somewhat relevant to today.
FM: What do you think is the most challenging thing for young creatives to conquer and achieve success today?
JV: It’s just enough to be young. Use and abuse this factor. One person’s success is another mans failure? And rubbish like that…
FM: What would you consider as provocative today?
JV: Untamed pubic hair to your knees.
Julie Vehoeven’s studio. Photographs courtesy of Ellie Tsatsou 2013 ©