Louise O. Fresco in her circular outfit

On the occasion of the centennial celebrations of Wageningen University and Research (WUR) we were commissioned to design a piece for the circular ensemble of WUR’s chairman Louise O. Fresco.

Yesterday was the opening of the academic year. Louise Fresco gave the openings speech where she looked back on the 100 years of Wageningen University but with emphasis on the future. Instead of buying a regular new outfit, Louise wanted to wear an outfit she could wear without guilt. That’s why we and other Dutch designers were invited to create a piece of sustainable clothing for her.


“The scarf gives you wings” Louise O. Fresco


The Scarf

We designed and made a silk scarf for the occasion. Recently we’ve found a way to dye larger pieces of fabric in a uniform, all-over manner.  So we were able to dye the scarf in a solid colour lavender. The colour is a mixture of pink and purple bacterial pigment. We used ahimsa peace silk for the scarf, meaning that the silkworms are not killed in the process of spinning the yarn, instead they can grow out to be butterflies. The silk is ecologically cultivated as well. The scarf really complimented the outfit. Louise described wearing the scarf as “the scarf gives you wings”. Which is also a nice reference to the wings the silkworms grow eventually.

Fresco Ensemble Bacteria Dyed Scarf by Living Colour
Fresco Ensemble; Bacteria Dyed Scarf by Living Colour


The Dress

The dress is designed by Elsien Gringhuis. She is characterized by her timeless designs, which are produced in the Netherlands. The dress is made of deadstock silk and designed with sewings patterns where a minimal amount of fabric is wasted. The dress also didn’t have buttons or zippers.
Aliki van der Kruijs created the print for the fabric, by painting the silk with residual ink from the digital textile printing industry. Aliki saw those ink residues on the side of the textile printer and it was a beautiful dark colour purple. This leftover ink is now processed as chemical waste, but Aliki found a way to reuse this residual flow and reduce the footprint of the industry.


The Shoes

Designer Luc Aarts made gold-coloured pineapple leather shoes. Piñatex, as the new material is called, is made from the leaves of pineapple. This by-product of pineapple cultivation is a natural and 100% biodegradable alternative to leather. The gold coating however is not sustainable yet. At the final fitting the shoes turned out to be too loose. “We had unfortunately measured her feet on a hot summer day”, says Luc. That and because of the ungiving characteristics of the material the shoes ended up too big in the end.” As an alternative, they decided to ornate a pair of Fresco’s own shoes with a gold detailed heel of Piñatex.


The Watch

The last durable detail is the watch strap designed by Iris Houthoff, lecturer in Bio Process Engineering at WUR. The strap is made from mushroom mycelium, a fungus derived from the Ganoderma lucidum mushroom. In Asia, that mushroom is used to extract a bitter medicinal tea. Houthoff: ‘Mycelium grows on residual flows, hardly consumes water and is treated with harmless chemicals.’


Pocket Square

Prime Minister Mark Rutte was also present at the opening of the academic year. After his speech Louise guided him to our exhibition to show him how and who made this outfit. We were happy to hand him the first pocket square we made with bacterial dye. He was very surprised and enthousiastic about our work.

Ilfa Siebenhaar, Louise O. Fresco and Mark Rutte
Ilfa Siebenhaar, Louise O. Fresco and Mark Rutte

The Making Of


Watch the video of the making of the circular outfit for Louise Fresco.

Fashioning the Future

Fresco’s complete ensemble is now on show at the exhibition Fashioning the Future at Impulse at Wageningen Campus.

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