By Artists For Artists

Nina Pen: I Have to Convince Myself that I Am

Self Portrait

Nina Pen philosophizes “I have to convince myself that I am” in her Honours graduate collection for Arnhem Fashion Design. Reflecting on these words and her Dutch identity, the menswear designer is inspired by the small village she grew up in in the Netherlands. It was there, alongside her painter/woodworker father, that she discovered her knack for artistic design. “He always stimulated us to be creative,” Pen says. “I guess this is where I learned to love crafts.”

Channeling early Elie Saab with her love of tailoring, Pen invokes a strong sense of control and peculiarity when hand drawing all her prints. Disapproving of the mass-produced over-consumption of design, she demolishes the idea of copies at a never-ending incline, imploring: “get rid of the copy phenomenon and bring back originality!”

What Defines Me As a Person?

In a world where questions are just as important as answers, Self Portrait confronts everything Nina knew growing up; “I was wondering where those feelings are coming from and why I do things the way I do them,” she says.

A Standout Performance

Self Portrait is both retro and contemporary, think Andy Warhol meets Viktor & Rolf (FW16). It’s certainly not for the faint of heart; “Since the designs are really outspoken and colorful the wearer should not be afraid to stand out,” Pen says. And stand out they do.

An array of whimsical fabrics, created through silkscreen printing, digital printing, and knitting, billowed down the runway in bold hues of green, blue, yellow, and burgundy. While male models rivaled the intensity and playfulness of the clothing and accessories with their cheeky grins.
Nina Pen, 2018

So, where to from here? Pen plans on collaboration. “For now,” she says, “I want to continue with the concept of my self-portrait. But for the future, I’m thinking about clothing for specific persons with personalized prints.” 

You can view more of Nina Pen’s work on Arnhem Fashion Design and Instagram.

Article written by Nermin Ali

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