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Step into the universe of MAD’s resident Kenza Taleb Vandeput by discovering 'Kasbah Kosmic' where sustainable fashion meets cultural empowerment. Kenza’s brand is strongly influenced by her Maghrebian culture and defined by her love for upcycled materials and eclectic, colourful designs.
MAD had a talk with Kenza Taleb Vandeput about the upcoming exhibition ‘Local Heroes’ at MIMA where her Kosmic vision on boxing will be showcased for the first time.
How did you get involved in this project?
“The opportunity of working on this exhibition with MIMA presented itself early on in my residency at MAD. I arrived at MAD in September and not long after that Dieter Van Den Storm (Creative Director at MAD) called me with the exciting news that MIMA would be doing an exhibition about boxing. Edouard Valette, another participating artist of the MIMA exhibition and photographer, suggested that my brand ‘Kasbah Kosmic’ should be included. Valette had seen some of my earlier (boxing) designs on Instagram and thought I would be the perfect fit for the upcoming exhibition.”
What’s the link between your personal life and the ‘Local Heroes’ exhibition?
“As a teenager I used to box intensively for 5 years of my life. I was probably the only girl back then, since it was not very conventional for women to box at that time. Luckily that has changed. I used to train intensively because my dream as a kid was to be a professional boxer. But unfortunately, I got injured which made me lose track of it. And to be completely honest with you: I also wasn’t disciplined enough to continue my boxing career as a teenager (laugh). But in the end, it makes a lot of sense for me to be involved in this project because I love that sport! So, I told MIMA: This is for me, I know what I’m talking about.”
Where did you draw inspiration from for this collection and how does that translate itself into the designs?
“I did a lot of research. For this collection I was mostly inspired by US boxers because in the USA, they know how to put on a show. Besides that, I was very inspired by the clothes and rituals of Shamans. Shamans’ gowns kind of symbolize the boxing capes that the boxers wear at the beginning of a fight. For me, going into the boxing ring for a fight is a ritual of its own.”
“This exhibition forms a collaboration with two boxing clubs in Brussels. Since there will be a live performance at the exhibition to show the garments to the public, I like to meet with the people who train in those clubs. These encounters teach me about how they look at fashion and how they express themselves while boxing. I was really inspired by the girls in the boxing club who wear hijabs to practice. So, I thought it would be nice to add a hijab-friendly design to the collection as well. The shapes of this collection were also inspired by the kachabia. A traditional garment from north Africa which have a very distinct look with a pointy cap.”
How does this collection play into your Kasbah Kosmic label and how does it link to your heritage?
“There’s one design that has been influenced by Berber garments. Their traditional clothing is very colourful. They have long capes, which I find very empowering to wear. A lot of their garments are only used once, as a type of performance. The same goes for boxing capes, which is why it’s so inspiring and symbolizing.”
“Each silhouette is different and upcycled. I used a lot of sportswear because I’ve always loved to incorporate it into my brand. Using vintage Adidas and Nike resulted in unique designs with their own colour palette.”
What has been the biggest challenge while creating this collection?
“The biggest challenge about this museum collection is that it must be a wearable masterpiece. Which means that it not only has to look fashionable, but it also needs to be functional in its wearability. It’s one thing for clothes to be showcased in a museum, it’s another thing for them to be actually worn by people during the live boxing performance.”
“This is why I really had to think about what type of garments I would be using. I had to think about whether the outfits would be washable after the performance as well as the weight of the clothes because I wanted it to feel like an impressive thing to wear while also being functional. I tried to manage by using some light fabric and stitches that are washable after use so the garments can be worn again.”
What has been the most exciting part in the design process and preparation of the exhibition so far?
“I’m proud to say that I'm a Brussels' kid who made it to the MIMA. It’s definitely a big step for me. To be back in the boxing environment felt nostalgic and to see how everything from art to sports can be linked together is very cool.”
What message do you hope to give the audience who will view your collection at MIMA?
“Maybe a bit of awareness about sustainability in sportswear. Also, to show the public that clothes can be part of a ritual and give you more confidence somehow. I like to leave a little bit of room for the public’s imagination since there’s usually a lot of individual experiences that correlate with my culturally influenced designs.”
‘Local Heroes’ is open for viewing starting from Feb 03, 2023 at MIMA Museum Brussels.
More info www.mimamuseum.eu