Amsterdam-based designer Sophie Hardeman wore a backward yellow baseball hat, button-up jeans, and a white tee bluntly declaring “models suck.” Hardeman, just like her eponymous unisex clothing line, likes to deliver the unexpected, and her fall/winter ’18 collection was just that.
Seventies-style color-blocked suits crowded the runway, and a camp green crop top jacket and pant combo highlighted the female model’s boxer briefs underneath. Gender, like all of the garments, moved in the same fluidity as the collection itself. Punk style hair and goth metallic lipstick drew attention to patchwork denim overall separates; pants were done in the style of culottes, whether shorts or cropped flares; and each models’ outfit was monochromatic but in an entirely different hue than the presiding look. Hardeman thrives on chaos and surprise. Her fall/winter show was a collection of characters who looked more like a European gang behind a pub than models. And that’s how Hardeman likes it.
Hardeman attended the self-described “experimental” Rietveld School of Design and worked for German designer Bernhard Willhelm in Los Angeles before starting her own denim line. Hardeman initially chose to work with denim due to its all-inclusive nature.
“I needed to figure out a language that everyone could relate to so I could speak to everyone, not just people who like fashion,” Hardeman told Dazed magazine. “Denim has a lot of topstitching and when I play with shape, it’s very directly, visually deformed. Also, the history is interesting – it’s gone through such a revolution. Jeans used to be complete workman’s attire – coalmines, cowboys – then became (the uniform of) motor boys, and so forth.”
Hardeman incorporates that history of denim into her themed shows. Past collections have drawn inspiration from drag queens to hoedowns to prom. Hardeman also creates short films to accompany each collection, highlighting her complete vision. “I couldn’t make clothes without making films or presentation,” Hardeman said. “I think that’s where a collection really comes alive.”
Hardeman’s brand is defined by making everyday occurrences be exotically out of the ordinary. Her unending inspiration comes from a variety of sources, including seemingly boring tasks. “I gather inspirations from daily happenings– from people at the laundry mat accidentally looking amazing because they dressed out of necessity,” Hardeman explained. “Status quo is to be looking good dressed bad, so basically you can get away with anything.”
Hardeman’s latest collection stays true to her message. We now know to only expect the unexpected from Hardeman.