Aziz Bekkaoui, fashion designer

Aziz Bekkaoui is a renowned fashion designer, artist and guest curator. His creations are known worldwide and have their origins in his studio in the heart of Amsterdam. In honor of the Olympic Games, Aziz is exhibiting during MASTERS VERNISSAGE one of his works in the color green as a symbol of the green Olympic ring. The fashion designer has left his mark creative industry earned and talks to MASTERS about his wheelbarrow.Text: Mical Joseph
Image: Aziz Bekkaoui

What was your very first job?

“I lived in Voorburg and had a summer job as an ice cream maker in an Italian restaurant in Scheveningen. I was also in high school and wanted to become an inventor. I was always sawing, making furniture and coming up with new concepts. In fact, I have become something of an inventor, but in a different area. I experiment, always want to innovate and color outside the lines.”

How did you end up in your current job?

“After high school I left for Arnhem and started my graphic and architectural education ArtEZ. At the time I thought the fashion magazines were superficial and lacked depth for me. It was often about the red carpet and champagne, but never about the personal. I came into more contact with the fashion program and switched to fashion in my own way. For me, it was already about how financially important this industry is and how important your own identity is as a designer: a mix of glamour, minimalism and urban.”

Who was your wheelbarrow in that?

“I did an internship in Milan and decided to participate in the fashion competition Festival des Jeunes Stylists in Hyères in Cannes. The jury included Gaultier, John Galliano and Jill Sander. I won this competition and was noticed by designer Paco Rabanne. The games Paco Rabanne opened doors for me: I was asked by the designer to show my collection as the support act during Rabanne's couture show in Paris. This was of course great, because top models Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangalista and Kate Moss walked this show.

Paco Rabanne encouraged me to believe in what I saw and felt and to persevere. He helped me in his studio, workshop and company. Because of his support I started my own label. A real wheelbarrow. In the last twenty years, another barrow has been added: Performance Artist Marina Abramovic. She collaborated with rapper Jay Z and Lady GaGa, among others. Marina has been important for my further development from fashion to art. She makes performances with people, without clothing and/or objects.”Aziz Bekkaoui – United Origins Fashion Show – photographer: Peter Stigter

What is your greatest passion in your profession?

“Working for people and with people. Every day is different and I divide my creativity into different disciplines. I am concerned with interior design, clothing, architecture and performances. It is important that if you want to dress someone, you know how they move and what their energy is. It's not a mannequin, it's a moving person in a public space.”

What has been the biggest learning moment in your career?

“To be honest, every collection I make is a learning experience. The grand finale is like taking a final exam every time. Every season I learn a lot and I always encounter new issues. Due to the changing spirit of the times and people, a year is never the same.”

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

“Doing my best where there are rules, such as in training, but secretly not letting go of the ideas I have deep inside and including them in my plans. Life is not black and white, it is not one or the other! Use the freedom and possibilities that the industry offers.”

Have you been a wheelbarrow for someone?

“I have been a wheelbarrow for many artists, fashion designers, models and performers. For example, I encouraged models who could not get a job, after which they later presented in Paris Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Dior started walking. Models who walked their first show with me walked shows with Prada, Gucci and other major brands after a few seasons. If I believe in talent, I encourage the person in question and I don't just give up.”The green Couture Singlet Dress on MASTERS VERNISSAGE