Studio Visits - Winde Rienstra

In our ongoing series of studio visits, this time we were pleased to be invited to visit the Utrecht studio of Winde Rienstra. Yes, not Amsterdam, but after two showings of her work during Amsterdam fashion week we were curious to see where she works and talk about her collections.

Winde studied fashion in Utrecht where during her studies she did an exchange in Australia and internships at Alexander van Slobbe and Iris van Herpen. Her home-studio is situated just on the edge of an 50's social housing project under the smoke of a big coffee factory. We are welcomed by Windes intern into the studio, it’s a bright space on the 1st floor, not big but functionally laid out: two big work surfaces, sewing machines. Some prototypes and finished pieces of the latest collection are spread around the room. There are a few bookshelves and a wall with inspirational images. Her grey cat is sitting in the windowsill, Winde remarks she saw on the last studio visit with Tony Marcus Sacharias that he had the same kind of cat.

Hi Winde, thanks for having us! Please tell us a bit about yourself, how you came to be a fashion designer?
Well I'm originally from Friesland, I come from a creative background: my aunt and grandma paint, my cousin is an illustrator. My father studied graphic design and now has a stamp shop where he produces stamps and my mom did a lot of knitting and had a loom when I was young. So being brought up like that influenced me a lot.
I grew up painting drawing etc, then the first study I did was to become an arts teacher - drawing 3d and audiovisual - so I developed that further. But I didn’t finish that study, I was not really comfortable teaching… One day I saw a theatre performance during the Oerol festival. I was so inspired by the way the costumes worked that I decided to study fashion.

The last collection you showed during fashion week, “Reflections in facets” what were the inspirations for that?
One of the main inspirations was the work of painter J.C. van Schagen.

How did you come by his work?
That’s a family connection, a relative of his is an acquaintance. There’s a painting above the table here, I like his work a lot. This one is in silver paint, when the light changes it changes the way it looks. That’s what I wanted to use in my collection.

In some pieces you used plywood…
Yes, that’s something that came from experimenting with cardboard first, cutting into it, I made a cuff that way and then I wanted to create something bigger. Then for the collection I had it laser-cut from plywood.
And with this other piece I started experimenting with folding, I’ve dozens of folding tests with paper. I tried to use the fabric as paper.

“One of the main inspirations was the work of painter J.C. van Schagen.”

Is it a special fabric?
It’s a sustainable silk - they create the silk without killing the silkworm - that’s already tough by itself and I further stiffened it to work like paper and keep the folds.

Is the sustainability important, you were one of the finalists of the green fashion competition? 
Well I try to look for that, but it’s not always possible with every material. I also try with other parts of the garments for example by using antique buttons, each garment has its own buttons which also makes every piece unique.

“…for example by using antique buttons”

Is having a concept important for you to make a collection or do you rather create your pieces by experimenting with forms?
My inspiration comes partly from my own experience and those things that I love doing, that I incorporate in the concept. I do work more from the form than following a concept, but during the entire process I do develop a concept in the back of my mind.

Do you think about the wearability of your outfits?
With my collections I try to look for the fine line between fashion and art, I find it interesting to see the body as a sculpture in my design. The designs are somewhere between clothing and object, it is not very wearable, but it’s more of a tribute to the body. I try for the extremes, how far I can go, can the body be a work of art by wearing my designs?

So it’s a conscious decision?
It's a very deliberate choice, I find it very important to be as free as possible in designing my collections. I want as little as possible to limit me, in that way I can also make designs that are innovative.  I think the business side of the story is important, of course, but luckily I get some help with that.
The designs from the collection are only made to order for now. They are tailored to the customer. In the future I do hope to sell pieces of the collection online.
As I said for me my collection doesn’t have to be wearable, I would rather make money on the accessories and shoes that I design. I am now looking into how I can produce and sell those.

Is that something you picked up during your internships or at the academy?
Partly, during my internship at Iris van Herpen I saw the process of her starting up her brand. During the internship at Alexander van Slobbes studio I learned a lot about the hand-finishing of pieces.

What are you working on at the moment?
My next project is called "Spinning a Yarn" and it’s about several traditional handcraft techniques from different cultures within the Netherlands, Somali and Turkish, next to traditional Dutch techniques: weaving, crochet and embroidery for example.
I try to explore those craft techniques and apply them in my next collection.
The collection and results of the project will be brought together in an exhibition that will be presented in the summer. Next to that I’m trying to pass those techniques on through workshops.

That’s also for the next Amsterdam fashion week?
Well the project should finish around July, just in time for fashion week, but I don’t know what I'm going to do with that, it depends on what’s the best way to present the collection.

So you don’t feel tied to the seasons?
Well, in my opinion, in the beginning at least, it is important to do so. And I think when you are more of an established name, then you can let it go. That’s the feeling I have, so for now I want to play by the rules.

Introduction and Interview by Micha Bakker

What makes life worth living?

Friends and family, the people who support me no matter what.

Nature, it remains surprising and stunningly beautiful.

Traveling, being with friends, live music, love!

Nature as well, I just love nature!

Surrounded by nature and being quiet to look around and listen to all the little sounds and the silence.  

The smell of the forest as it has just rained

Goat cheese, Mexican food, potatoes and fruit.

A hug from your loved one

All studio pictures Felicia Nitzsche

Winde Rienstra AFW 2012 - Photos: Studio Peter Stigter


  1. I just discovered this blog and it's so awesome :D I'm following.
    I'm studying in Amsterdam and I love the Amsterdam style.

  2. amazing, those cardboard shoes are out of this world!