We are going on a well-deserved city break, but what does the discerning and well-turned-out shopper bring back? Well, usually nothing apart from a bottle of duty-free. But the fashion-conscious will find so much in the stylish and elegant Hague to bring home. There are design souvenirs aplenty which will garner more admiring glances than that bottle of cheap vodka.
Les Soeurs Rouges
Les Soeurs Rouges is a fashion and accessory brand, founded in 2009 by the talented sisters Dorrith de Roode and Marlous de Roode. The family name, de Roode, is Dutch for the French version of rouge, meaning red. But why have they chosen a French name for their label? A couple of centuries ago French was widely spoken in The Hague, which has always been cosmopolitan and a trend setter. Les Soeurs Rouges products are designed and handmade by the company to the highest of standards.
Fashion is in the de Roode genes and has been for several generations. They had a grandfather who was business manager at department store Peek and Cloppenburg, who still say that ‘Sophisticated fashion is our passion’. Their grandmother worked in the ready-to-wear side of clothes production. Their mother still works in the fashion industry; she started as a seamstress and now supports the sisters in their successful design endeavours.
The themes of their collections come from the iconic age of fabric creations in the 1920s, along with memories of lost places in The Hague. Le Parc Perdu (the Lost Park) Collection is striking, beautiful and whimsical, and reflects animals and foliage in a zoo which was once in The Hague, established in 1863 and finally demolished in 1968.
What could be a more unique souvenir of The Hague than an accessory from Le Parc Perdu Collection? The distinctive Ivy Necklace 7 Leaves – black metal and leather leaf, handmade by Les Soeurs Rouges, is a limited edition of only 20 pieces.
A silk scarf from Le Parc Perdu Collection is iconic and is something of a trademark. It comes in several colour combinations but peach and black are colours often paired in work by Les Soeurs Rouges. The background is light peach with sharp print in black. It’s 86 cm x 86 cm and made from 100% silk in France. This is also a limited edition of 20 of each colour combination. This is a luxurious and practical gift which is also, thankfully, portable and easy posted.
Les Soeurs Rouges
Binckhorstlaan 36 | M350
2516 BE The Hague
Phone: +31(0)6 12 36 08 96
Visit Les Soeurs Rouges here
Handbags by Omar Munie
But a discerning traveller needs a bag of distinction, and The Hague has a veritable emporium of leather goods with a fascinating story behind the window display. Omar Munie has his flagship store in The Hague and it’s famed in the Dutch fashion world and beyond.
Omar Munie fled from his country of birth, Somalia, as a nine-year-old. His family, along with many others, were fleeing the civil war. He didn’t speak Dutch but learnt very quickly and became an independent young man who wanted to attend fashion school, and there he discovered a passion for craftsmanship in leather and other materials.
Omar made some bags and in 2003 he surprised a few of his classmates when he took one of his creations to school, and his fellow students were impressed. The next day he took another three bags to school and sold them for €35 each. That was the start of his business. These days celebrities like Jane Fonda and Oprah Winfrey own Omar bags, too. His bags are exclusive and handmade from the finest leathers, and have beautiful linings. There are different styles, from wallets to larger items for day or evening, for men and for women, but all have his distinctive mark of quality and craftsmanship.
Souvenirs are often little items which demand dusting and serve no purpose apart from reminding the buyer of a wonderful city. An Omar Munie bag will endure, and will become better with use and as the leather warms to its owner. These bags range in colour and size so there is bound to be one that would be perfect.
Noordeinde 43 T
Phone: +31 (0)70 347 8184
Visit Omar Munie here
Fashion designer Michael Barnaart van Bergen
So you have travelled to The Hague and you have some marvellously inspired accessories, and a bag with which to turn heads, but what to wear? The work of Dutch fashion designer Michael Barnaart van Bergen is remarkable yet simple and clean-cut, although in reality the term should be clean-knit, for that is this designer’s preferred medium.
In 2009 Michael Barnaart van Bergen released his first ready-to-wear collection with his handbag line Anna, alongside his couture pieces. He named the Anna bag after his mother. Michael created red-carpet dresses for three actresses nominated for the Musical Awards, and designed a unique shoe collection for Sacha Shoes’ 100th anniversary. In 2010 Michael was installed as Fashion Ambassador for The Hague.
On 13 October 2011 the Michael Barnaart van Bergen Boutique opened. The small shop sells the Michael Barnaart van Bergen collection. His dresses and jackets are smart, contemporary and comfortable. They show European style in classic and timeless swathes of soft knit. The designs have a graphic quality which works well for both chic urban and suburban wear.
Michael Barnaart van Bergen Boutique
2513 AV The Hague
Phone: +31 (0)70 744 57 05
Visit Michael Barnaart van Bergen Boutique here
Givenchy and Hepburn
The Hague is a city of culture and refinement, and just the place to show an exhibition of the finest design and some of the most instantly recognised couture. Hubert de Givenchy created some of Audrey Hepburn’s most celebrated film costumes, and many of them can be seen at Hubert de Givenchy – To Audrey with Love here in the Gemeentemuseum.
The classic costumes were seen in such movies as How to steal a Million, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Charade. One can view these and more along with sketches, magazine covers and memorabilia at this unmissable exhibition which is presented in cooperation with UNICEF Netherlands.
This is not the first Givenchy exhibition here: in 1988 the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague presented a show called ‘Hubert de Givenchy: Haute Couture worn by Audrey Hepburn’ and the launch was attended by both Audrey Hepburn and Hubert de Givenchy.
But how about a souvenir of this outstanding event? There is a gallery devoted to Ms Hepburn’s work with UNICEF and to raise funds for the organisation. A proportion of the profits from merchandise will be donated, as will money collected from the popular photo booth where wannabe stars can dress in hats and dark glasses and dream of being on the cover of Vogue! A souvenir which will cost a lot less than a Givenchy gown…or even that botle of vodka!
The exhibition: Hubert de Givenchy – To Audrey with Love, runs from 26 November 2016 to 26 March 2017.
Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
2517 HV Den Haag
Visit Gemeentemuseum Den Haag here
Travel review by Chrissie Walker © 2018