IFFTI 2017 opening talk – Combining the old with the new

AMFI is the 2017 host of IFFTI, the annual conference of leading fashion schools worldwide. The theme of this year is ‘Breaking the rules’ and AMFI students are reporting on events. First & second year Management students Hannah Galloway and Roanne de Kluizenaar were present at the opening lecture of Bianca du Mortier, the costume curator at The Rijksmuseum.


Bianca du Mortier on stage during her lecture at the auditorium of Rijksmuseum

Bianca du Mortier on stage during her lecture at the auditorium of Rijksmuseum.

The first day of IFFTI was held at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, so it made sense that Bianca du Mortier, costume curator at the museum since 1980, was the opening speaker. Bianca led the audience elegantly through the relationship between fashion and costume throughout history and its importance today.

She explained how the costume collection took off in 1878 when the Dutch participation at the World Exhibition in Paris was an exhibition of regional costumes and scenes from daily lives. At that time ‘national identity’ was a defining theme for countries and cultures and when the costumes and the mannequins came back to Amsterdam it was decided that they should be conserved in the museum. Thus, the costume collection at The Rijksmuseum was born. Bianca led us through the history of curating costumes at the museum which was an interesting story of the technical challenges of costume conservation and battles for museum space.

It is also the history of the passion of an individual, the draftswoman and embroiderer J.H. Derkinderen-Besier, who was hired by the museum and applied her knowledge to the care of the costumes. She played an important role in costume history as she was very interested in the technical aspects of clothing conservation writing two books on the subject, Spelevaart der Mode and Mode-Metamorphosen. Her books reveal technical details of costumes from the past and are still valuable for today’s fashion professional.


Homepage of the online treasure of Dutch costume & fashion history,

Homepage of the online treasure of Dutch costume & fashion history,


Likewise the passion of a group of costume curators in The Netherlands led to creating a platform that unites costumes from various museums around the country in the form of ModeMuze (“fashion muse”) which offers unconditional access to all kinds of costumes and accessories all over the country, for lovers of fashion and history. It is still growing today as more museums participate.

Bianca du Mortier stated that the recognition of costume history is important in relation to a full comprehension of the changes within fashion and clothes with the body as the central theme.  In achieving a strong future for fashion we need embrace the new while cherishing the old.


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Cover of Fashion DNA, a magazine-like catalogue from 2006 - one of the succesfull projects by Bianca du Mortier and her team.



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