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ADDY VAN DEN KROMMENACKER, FASHION DESIGNER

Addy van den Krommenacker dresses all the well-known Netherlands, members of the Royal family up to and including sophisticated woman. His creations not only remain within Dutch borders, the fashion designer is also internationally renowned. He grew from a young boy from under the rivers to an established designer with international allure. Addy talks about his wheelbarrow. Text: Mical Joseph
Image: Addy van den Krommenacker

What was your very first part-time job?

“I pruned trees during my holidays, I hated it. It didn't take long, but I wanted to buy clothes, so I had to work. As a teenager I liked to buy clothes in a Udense boutique. I went there through all kinds of weather to buy nice clothes for myself on credit.

As a child I was always drawing princesses in beautiful dresses at the kitchen table. Besides drawing I also liked to sing, I was quite good to be honest. Through my network I was allowed to participate in an operetta and sing in a choir. After primary school I went to, don't be alarmed: the seminary to become a priest. My parents were very religious and loved having a priest in the family. The seminary was on the same street as my parental home, but I was not allowed to see my parents, which often made it difficult for me. I dropped out and went to a 'normal' high school.

Here I met other boys and we started a band where I sang. The band was professional, because we got a manager and I sang like crazy. Until my vocal cords got injured because I was singing too high all the time. I wanted to sing like The Bee Gees and loved ballads. The doctor also discovered that I was breathing incorrectly while singing. I was no longer allowed to sing, my world collapsed.”

How did you end up in your current job?

“My sister pointed out to me that there was a job available in a clothing boutique in Den Bosch. I found it very exciting, for me this was the big city. The owner took me on, on the condition that I lost my dialect and I was no longer allowed to say “our mother”. I agreed and found my way in the business. At one point I became a buyer and after a year took over all purchasing of the three businesses: turnover increased enormously. I held the position of buyer for ten years, but the boutique landscape was changing, making purchasing more difficult. Partly because of a friend who invested, I was able to take over one business out of three.

I wanted to upgrade the business through Italian brands. No sooner said than done: full of enthusiasm I left for Milan and bought brands such as Dolce & Gabanna and Versace. I was one of the first to bring these brands to the Netherlands. After years of selling, styling the stars and running the business, I was fed up: I started creating myself. My own creations performed better than the established brands in the business.

I made my first collection, where the first show was a great success and made the front page of De Telegraaf. I stopped using the other brands and focused completely on my own creations. After this things went quickly, because in 2007 I was invited to Rome where I held my first foreign show. I was also asked to dress the models in America's Next Top model and Tyra Banks.”

Who was your wheelbarrow in that?

“I actually didn't have a wheelbarrow, because I did that myself. My sister advised me to apply for a job at the boutique in Den Bosch, but otherwise I have done everything on my own during my life. Sandra Reemer has been extremely important to me. She was one of the first to wear my clothes on TV, she showed me what I could do and believed in me.”

What is your greatest passion in your profession?

“My greatest passion in my profession is designing evening dresses, but I also really enjoy designing ready-to-wear. It is important to me that the creations are affordable so that it is accessible to a larger group of women.”

What has been the biggest learning moment in your career?

“What I have learned is that it is also important to be busy with other things than just creating. By this I mean that I am an entrepreneur and that financial matters also need to be organised. In addition, I learned early on that authenticity and staying close to yourself are very important.”

What advice would you give to your 18 year old self?

“I wouldn't have wanted to do anything else in my life, because I did everything with complete dedication. Throughout my career I always stayed true to myself and did my thing.”

Have you been a wheelbarrow for someone?

“A boy came to me when he was sixteen. He helped me with the fashion shows, did an internship with me at one point, after which he started working full-time. I trained this person completely and had such a high drive to achieve goals. After his time with me, he was asked by many to work for them. Nowadays he works for himself and still helps me on a project basis.”