This spring, when the international designer collections are unveiled to gasps of carefully orchestrated hype and the sounds of ringing tills, Milan, London, Paris and New York will again be centre-stage. But this year, the big names will also be joined by a lesser-known world fashion capital - Utrecht. That is in Holland, for those of you reaching for the atlas.
A glance through any of the more daring fashion journals reveals why. While the global names with big advertising budgets soak up much of the attention, editors and commentators searching for that elusive fresh take are turning to designers such as Alexander van Slobbe, Oscar Suleyman, Niels Klavers, Saskia van Drimmelen and Ronald van der Kemp - all of them Dutch.
"This year, everyone will be reading about these designers, they are the big thing," confirms Shazzy Thomas, fashion hype editor of The Face. "Their work is minimal and classic, it is so refreshing that attention has moved away from the big American designers."
The best-known label to emerge from Holland in recent years is the internationally feted Viktor & Rolf (pictured below). The New York store Barneys recently hosted a show of its ready-to-wear line and, in this country, both Harvey Nics and Browns stock a wide selection of its clothes. "Viktor & Rolf pieces are beautifully made, yet perfect for the more individual customer, which is what makes them so sought after," says Francoise Tessier, fashion buyer for Browns.
Such is the hype surrounding Dutch fashion …