Friday, 30 April 2010

It's all gone orange...Happy Queen's Day!

To all my good Dutch friends wishing you a Happy Queen's Day! For those that are unfamiliar with this today is a big national holiday in the Netherlands for the celebration of the Queen's Birthday. Technically the date is the birthday of Queen Beatrix's mother, but has since been retained as the Beatrix's 'official' birthday, and as the national day to celebrate the Netherlands. The whole country literally turns 'orange', with much partying in both private homes and in the streets. As a foreigner living there one of the most curious rituals to was to see the sight of every city, but particularly noticeable in Amsterdam, being turned into one big jumble sale. Queen's Day is also the one day in the year when the general public can legally trade and sell goods on the street, usually contents of peoples attics or storerooms, such as old clothes, furniture, broken lamps and the odd valuable curio like a suit of armour.

My own research is looking at the value of cultural identity and how this portrayed through fashion in city culture. It remains curious how often ideals around cultural superiority are still played around national identity, and particularly through the so-called 'soft' display of clothing. In the UK England recently had it's national Saint Day, St. George (shared also with Russia and Portugal), yet this day is not a national holiday here. Indeed the whole idea of patriotism in the UK has become a much debated aspect of culture over recent years, especially as a unified sense of British identity has dissipated. Yet building up a strong identity of place, and an affiliation with place, remains important both culturally and within the fashion industry itself. There is a strong need it appears in all of us in feeling some kind of pride in the locality, through embracing it, and in turn feeling the locality embrace you. This process of identification with place and the emotional attachment we give to place is something I continue to explore through my research/curatorial project, Fashion Souvenirs. Why do people still feel the need to visibly demonstrate their affinity with particular places through the clothes they wear? As I have discovered 'patriotism' isn't necessarily linked only to your own country, as in this globalised world many of us have many 'homes' or home countries or cities, even if the attachment was made with just one or two visits. Instinctively it seems, we know when we have arrived 'home'.

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