Homage to Mathilde Willink & Fong Leng

13 Apr

 

Mathilde

Born Maria Theodora Mathilde de Doelder (1938-1977) in a province in the south of the Netherlands called Zeeland, she became famous as Mathilde Willink. Young Mathilde was an intelligent girl, who graduated cum laude from high school, after which she moved to Amsterdam to attend art school.

Mathilde had always been a shy and timid girl, but this changed in her new hometown. She adopted an exuberant lifestyle and at twenty-one she met the much older, well-known painter Carel Willink. Mathilde quit art school to become a stewardess at KLM Airlines. Two years she and Carel married and they lived a very comfortable lifestyle.

In 1972 Mathilde started wearing clothes designed by Fong Leng, an artist who had started making extravagant garments with names as exotic as the clothes itself, like Chinese roof garden, Wuthering Heights and Bird of Paradise. Carel made special ‘almost permanent’ make-up for her which she could wear day-and-night. A ‘star’ was born.

Mathilde

Mathilde Willink

Mathilde

Fong Leng & MathildeDesigner Fong Leng & Mathilde Willink
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Studio Fong Leng

In 1971 Fong Leng opened ‘ Studio Fong Leng’ in the P.C. Hooftstraat  in Amsterdam, where extravagant clothes were sold. From day one Mathilde Willink was a devoted fan. She wore the fabulous creations at society parties, at media gatherings and became a known phenomenon in the streets scenes of Amsterdam. (I saw her only ones and I remember like it was yesterday! A beautiful woman who dared to be different…. I had been ‘different’ in the town I was born in and I knew how strong and determined  you had to be, to dress abundant.)

Mathilde’s excentric looks were important building the reputation, national and international, for ‘Studio Fong Leng’. Fong Leng and Mathilde Willink names were synonymous and still are.

In a five-year period Mathilde bought 37 creations by Fong Leng, which could be priced up to € 11.345,- each.

Fong-Leng

Fong Leng

Fong Leng in one of her own designs

Fong Leng

Fong Leng

Fong Leng

Fong Leng

Fong Leng

Fong Leng

Fong Leng

Fong Leng

Fong Leng

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Mathilde Willink was a living art objectan original and a unique person, who dared to be different.

After Carel and Mathilde divorced, her life drifted into chaos and ended with the unsolved mystery her death. It’s still unclear if she was killed or committed suicide. On her tombstone  just one word: Mathilde

 

“I live in a fairy-tale world made of illusions and extravagance. If people don’t notice you, it’s no use living.”

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Viktor & Rolf  s/s collection 2003 

Decades after Mathilde  Willink died, she was the inspiration for the S/S 2003 catwalk collection by Viktor & Rolf . The vivid show was based on the shows Fong Leng used to present: dancing outrageous models on ‘rocking’ music, party time backstage and on the catwalk.

International press didn’t know about Mathilde and wrote about ‘dresses out of the heyday of Zandra Rhodes and Bill Gibb‘ and ‘homage to vintage Chanel’.

  (Music at the V&R show by Eddy De Clercq)

V&R

V&R

V&R

V&R

V&R

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