« WILL YOU BOTTER? »
text by: Eline Hoyois
photographer: Ruth Ossai
stylist: Ibrahim Kamara
Every year, an abound of talents complete their master and leave the Fashion Department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp to conquer the large fashion Houses. The rigorous curriculum of this school, its methods and structures are reminiscent of a military education, where only the most relentless will have the chance to graduate. Rushemy Botter is one of those. After a first training in the army, he decides to follow his inner voice and attended the higher education Fashion Design section at the Arnhem Institute. But his exigencies and interests for fashion were boundless and he then chose to sharpen his knowledges through the Antwerp’s Royal Academy.
His talent already exploded during his studies: during his third school year he won the International Frangrances and Flavors Award and the VFiles Runway price, this collection made clear references to clothing bearing mottoes of motorcycle gangs. The message was in relation to the political and terrorist incidents that preoccupied the period. The show was presented at NYC Fashion Week under the renowned tutelage of the designer Jerry Lorenzo, the top model Naomie Campbell, the stylist Mell Ottenberg and the rapper Young Thug. Botter obtained his master in June 2017, opening wide the doors to a bright future.Now, with his partner Lisi Herrebrugh, Rushemy has given his name to a new men’s label born from the collection he developed during his master. This main collection entitled « Fish or Fight », was presented at Amsterdam fashion week. Rushemy’s Caribbean roots form the spirit of the brand. Satin fabrics mixed with bright colours draw silhouettes that combine the influences of, both, street wear and classic men’s looks to create sophisticated cuts.
But the duo is also committed and lucid, engaging on political issues such as the devastation of ecostysteme, pollution and segregation. Botter points his finger at the environmental problems concerning the Caribbean islands. He explains: « The plastic bag you buy at the supermarket can end up in the ocean and can kill” or « The coral reef is damaged in such a way that it affects its growth, behaviour and development”. The collection then subtly mingle refined fashion with societal critic. Patches added to the silhouettes transmit critical messages, such as Botter’s metamorphose of the logo of the world’s largest publicly traded oil company: Shell becomes Hell. “Companies like Shell mess with the reef, damaging the eco-system of the region, making it impossible to earn money fishing. All the while, the arriving big supermarket chains kill the smaller entrepreneurs” he explains.
Aware of the environmental impact of clothing production and the pollution caused by the processes, the couple organized the production of its collection in an ecological way. They work with local producers using as far as possible recycled products and attentive to reduce their ecological impacts by, for example, giving special attention to reduce the waste from cutting. Reflecting the personal concerns and sensitivity of the creators, dark skinned models compose the brand’s casting, an ode to Curaçao, the Dutch colony of the West Indies from where the Rushemy’s forefathers originated. The two creators lookbook is as shattering as the causes they defend. The photographer Ruth Ossai was in charge of immortalizing this first collection of the brand, while the emergent stylist Ib Kamara was figuring in their team. And this Sunday, at the Robert Mallet-Stevens’s aristo-modernist Villa Noailles, the fashion designers, photographers and designers gathering place, Rushemy Botter and Lisi Herrebrugh had the privilege to be rewarded with the Première Vision Grand Prize. The jury was touched by the very high creativity and quality of the displayed items, while also noticing the ecological and social concerns of the brand, a very appealing mix.
The paparazzi flocked to the festival due to the presence of the muse, actress and performers, Tilda Swinton, in the jury. Whose soft facial features inspired the most creative peoples.The amount of the prize is of 15,000 euros, but Rushemy and Lisi will also receive 10,000 euros from Petit Bateau; collaborate, for an equivalent amount, with Chanel’s Metiers d’Art division on a new project and receive royalties for the creation of items. An inspiring stimulus for their talent to flourish. Rushemy and Lize already won five awards with this collection and are finalists for the LVMH prize. Fingers crossed, the brand’s followers pray that the members of this following jury will be touched by these beautiful clothes that also display serious messages in their folds.