A journey through time in order to move forward

The graduation project of Design student Thijs van der Laan will result into six outfits inspired by the famous painting The Ship’ by Salvatore Dali. In this interview Thijs looks back at his years at AMFI, talks about his graduation project and some first ideas of his future.


Article and photos by Stephanie Barbian, student Int. Fashion & Management.


Do you remember the time you got into AMFI? What expectations did you have?

“I was quite young when I started AMFI, I was 17 and I just got out of high school. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to do something creative. So I ended up looking into art schools and realised that I really liked fashion. I applied at AMFI without sewing skills and without portfolio, and I still got in. The lack of skills and experience turned my first year at the school into quite a chaotic time.  I doubted if I could even do it, but after the first year after my skills had improved and my time at AMFI went quite well. To be honest,  I actually did not know what to expect at the start. I only knew that I liked fashion, the image and the world around it. For me it is an art form.”

"For me fashion is a form of art."

“A vision is also about gettting to know your skills.”

Did your vision on fashion change over the years?

“Definitely. I was selected for the honours program, in which I started to develop some kind of direction. In the program I learned what I can do and how I can achieve that, and what I did turned out to be what I like. A vision for me varies from what you enjoy and what you can do. So for me the case is that I am quite good at making patterns. That is why I would like to go into direction of construction. So a vision is also about getting to know your skills.”

Do you have a fashion role model?

“Rei Kawakubo from Comme Des Garçons and Rick Owens are definitely my fashion role models. Both designers are completely doing their  own thing and they are pushing the boundaries of fashion. Next to that, they are still designing with a purpose. Their designs are not only art pieces. Their garments are not necessarily created to make people more beautiful. They are ahead of time.”

Tell me about your graduation project.

“The concept is quite broad. The idea is to have a journey through time;  what was crazy in the past and is normal now. It is about us never reaching the ‘ultimate normal’ since there will always be people acting differently and changing the boundaries of being normal. In that way, we always keep on moving forward, there is always a response. The world is chaotic right now, so I believe that it is important to re-create humanity and to bond. So in a way it is about moving through time on one hand, and on the other hand about people coming together. It will result in 6 outfits and matching 2D works.”

Inspiration for Thijs' collection from his Process Book.

Inspiration for Thijs’ collection from his Process Book.

What was your starting point? How did you come up with your project?

“I got inspired by this painting called ‘The Ship’ by Salvatore Dali. The painting shows a human being carrying sales from a ship on its back while walking out of the sea. My idea of the journey of time arose from the painting and the fact how Dali uses the metaphor of a person being a ship which sails through time.

Where do you want to be in a couple of years?

“My future is quite open. I would like to work in a company working with patterns, but never losing the part of being creative since that is really important for me. I want to gain more experience and I my demands are not too high yet. Another option is working for a commercial company and at the same time establish something private next to that where I can embrace my creativity. The last option would be the ultimate thing for me personally.”

Are you prepared for the industry? How do you feel?

The education at AMFI is focused on the industry. On one side, I believe that through the education I am prepared, but on the other side – there are so many things you cannot learn at school. The design program at AMFI is focused on the students developing their personal style, whereas in a commercial company the design process is proceeded in a different way. But during my internship time at Yang Li in London I learned a lot, I worked full time and was always with the designer.

Another peek into Thijs/ Process Book, revealing the line up.

Another peek into Thijs’  Process Book, revealing the line up.

What do you dread mostly in the coming months?

“I am very restricted in time, which means that I have to make decisions and stick to them. I am a bit afraid of ending up not being completely satisfied, regretting the decisions I made. Everything goes really fast, which also makes it quite realistic and comparable to the industry. Right now, I am trying to trust my instincts.”


This is interview is part of a series on AMFI students who are currently graduating. See the previous interview here.

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