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Feminine Feminist

Interview by Marlies Dekkers for her Magazine 2017

Antoinette's brave new world

She predicted the brightly colored hair trend years before it hit the runway at Chanel and she foresaw the rise of 'flawed' supermodels like Winnie Harlow. One thing is clear: trend forecaster and designer Antoinette van den Berg, aka The Lady in Blue, lives, wears and breathes trends. I sat down with the sparkly, blue-haired personality to find out what the future has in store for us. "I'm telling you, old is cool!"

Marlies: First of all, what does a trend forecaster do?

Antoinette: I tell the future. Not by using a crystal ball, but by keeping my eyes wide open: what is going on in society, and where are we heading? I take my cues from any number of health, economic and lifestyle factors, then tailor this knowledge to the needs of my clients: creative professionals who want to develop beauty and fashion products that match future consumer needs. Together, we look at the possibilities, but also the responsibilities. How can they produce as little waste as possible, for example?

Marlies: Working in fashion, I need to be well ahead of the game myself. What I design, doesn't hit the stores for another 2 years at least! I suspect that you and I have similar methods of forecasting. How exactly do you develop your insights?

Antoinette: The first step is a very intuitive one. I travel, observe and engage, constantly. All of a sudden, something will catch my eye. A really cool guy in a coffeeshop wearing nail polish for example. Two days later, I see the same thing on Instagram. That's when I start my research: what is the background of this phenomenon? What does it mean in a societal context? What kind of trend will it develop into?

Marlies: Could you describe the 2 most influential trends of the moment?

Antoinette: The end of consumerism is a big one. It's a tragic fact that between 10 and 40 % of all produced fashion and cosmetics is never sold and goes straight to the garbage dump. You see pictures of people kissing each other through their surgical masks and you realize: wow, in only 40 years time pollution has gotten completely out of hand! The keyword now is respect. Respect for the earth, respect for each other.

Marlies: I think the shift away from fast fashion has been going on for a while, but it has become more urgent than ever. When I had to reorganize my company for example, I took the opportunity to shrink my collection to about a third of its usual size. It's proven to be a great success.

Antoinette: I can see that! I recently shopped around for a new iron, and within minutes I became completely overwhelmed with the endless variety on offer. I realized that in the end, the consumer is not impressed by quantity, but will choose the iron that has been made with respect for the world and mankind. Similarly, even though there is a lot of lingerie out there, women will go for your brand because you respect and empower them with your designs. Your concept of feminine feminism is not some superficial marketing story but an extension of you! It IS you! A super sexy business woman who kicks ass!

Marlies: Thank you! Can you name another big cultural shift?

Antoinette: There is a growing appreciation for what I like to call the 'Perfect Default'. For a while now, we have had the means to artificially create perfection and turn ourselves into never-ageing Barbie dolls. Terribly bland, of course, but at the same time we see older women in powerful positions who are becoming very strong role models. They are helping us to slowly embrace the look of a naturally aged women, including those much-feared wrinkles.

Marlies: I have always been amazed at our double standards: the same wrinkles that are taboo for women are considered attractive on men!

Antoinette: Well, that's about to change! And it's not just wrinkles we are starting to accept and even celebrate, it's all so-called 'defaults'. Freckles, wonky teeth, ears that stick out, severe pigmentation; yes, even having one leg can be totally hot right now!

Marlies: One leg?

Antoinette: Thanks to 3D printing, we can produce the most amazing single pieces. If you are artist with one leg, you can show up every night on stage with a new, fabulous design-leg, turning your handicap into a statement and an asset. The 'perfect default'.

Marlies: Having started out over 25 years ago, I look at how comfortable women are right now with sharing lingerie-selfies that often show off their 'perfect imperfections', and I realize we have come a long way. We are ready to embrace the whole person and her or his entire life cycle, not matter what shape, color or size.

Antoinette: Yes, and it is job to urge my clients to embrace that shift. For the longest time, marketeers have limited themselves to the beauty ideal of a young woman aged between 15 and 25 years old. Just think of all the missed opportunities!

Marlies: That reminds me of actress Isabella Rossellini recently getting hired back as the face of Lancome at 63, 20 years after they had fired her for being 'too old'.

Antoinette: I'm telling you: old is cool! Soon, you will walk into a very chic hotel and be greeted at the reception by the best representative for such a place: a gorgeous, older woman. And when you build a team, you will be expected to include people from all ages. After all, every life phase has its own strength: a young person will have enormous drive whereas an older person has more experience to share. It's pure common sense, isn't it? Just like the food industry finally, and rightfully, returning to using pure, seasonal ingredients: well, duh!

Marlies: Normalcy will be the new norm.

Antoinette: Exactly. And this time, 'normal' will include diversity in age, race, religion, sexuality, body shape, you name it! Gender fluidity is a big thing too; we are refusing to be labeled and boxed in any longer.

Marlies: In other words, we are entering an exciting, beautiful new era. Thank you, Antoinette!

Antoinette can be found on Instagram as @theladyinblu.

The Lady in Blu is the initiator of RE LOVE FASHION. Her goal is to promote less consumption of new fabric, using joyful solutions such as Re-Use, Re-Touch, Re-Style, Re-Pair and Re-Peat Fashion.