Frans Hoogendoorn – A Royal Couturier

Colourful, timesless and elegant, that is how you could describe the designs of Frans Hoogendoorn. Probably not the best known (at least internationally) of the designers of the Dutch royal family, but parallel to the exhibition about Steltman Jewelry he has his own tribute exhibition at the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague. “Frans Hoogendoorn. Een Haags Couturier” (Frans Hoogendoorn. A Hague Couturier) can be visited from 4 November 2017 to 18 February 2018.

Who is Frans Hoogendoorn? In 1974 he set up his own business. The passionate designer rather focused on his clients and the quality of his designs, than on the limelight. On 1 November 2013, when he was 70 years old, he closed his salon at the Molenstraat in The Hague. It however doesn’t stop him from designing, although on a lower level. His designes are clearly influenced by chic Parisian couture and have an international air. Leading women in Dutch society (diplomats, politicians, nobility), including members of the Dutch royal family, love his designs.

Using the finest fabrics from Italy and France he creates designs with bright colours, strong contrasts and bold colour combination. Graphic lines, black-and-white outfits, houndstouth jackets, polka dot evening dresses, and his trademark frivolous bows, can all be found back. Hoogendoorn let himself being influenced by style icons like Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy and the Duchess of Windsor, Parisan couture of the 1950s and 1960s by Hubert de Givenchy and Cristóbal Balenciaga.

Frans Hoogendoorn designed couture for Princess Irene of the Netherlands, Princess Christina of the Netherlands, Princess Margarita de Bourbon de Parme, Princess Carolina de Bourbon de Parme and at the start of her royal life also for Queen Máxima of the Netherlands. In 2005 he designed the wedding dress of Princess Anita of Orange-Nassau, Van Vollenhoven.

Some items at the exhibition are on loan from royals. On display are a red evening coat of Princess Irene, as well as the white ensemble she wore at the funeral of her father, Prince Bernhard, in 2004. Also Princess Margarita gave one of her favourite Hoogendoorn dresses on loan – I hope I picked out the right one as it looks similar to her wedding dress from 2005. Also shown is the wedding dress of Princess Anita from 2008. Unfortunately the dress and the lace are a bit discoloured. I did love the dress on Princess Anita back in 2005, but on a tailor’s dummy with a white background and earrings that don’t belong with the dress, it doesn’t look nearly as good.

The exhibition – created by Madelief Hohé and guest curator Nicole Uniquole, and designed by Maarten Spruyt – includes collection drawings, film footage and a selection of creations, some from private collections. Together with Nicole Uniquole Frans Hoogendoorn has also written a (Dutch) book about his oeuvre.

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