Cléa van der Grijn & Natalie B Coleman's FLUX film/fashion collaboration

Costume Drama 

The interrelationship between fashion and film makes for compulsive viewing says Penny McCormick who meets three Irish women responsible for dressing and accessorising le tout Hollywood 


Says Van Der Grijn, “In my practice as a painter and experimental film maker, I express emotions and concepts through literal and abstract imagery. It’s always been my intention to blur the boundaries between fact and fiction. In film, my characters emphasise the unstable, vulnerable and emotional states of mankind. I like to create dream – and mindscapes, a fantasy world both cinematically beautiful and psychologically disturbing. A world that explores significant topics such as death, loss, love, isolation and mental health issues. 


In my latest film Flux, the female protagonist is fearless, sexual, sensual but deeply complex. I wanted to dress her in a costume that represented a woman from an oneiric land. I knew instinctively that Natalie B Coleman’s dresses have the feminine silhouettes that I was seeking. I wore her black voluptuous Victorian-inspired silk taffeta dress to the Oaxaca Film Festival awards ceremony in Mexico where my film Jump (2019) won an award. [Jump is now part of the Irish Museum of Modern Art permanent national collection]. 


Before I had even completed my story board for Flux, I asked Natalie would she be interested in my concept. She agreed immediately and we discussed ideas which she further developed as a bespoke piece called the Swan dress, eventually worn by actress Hillary Rowan Walsh. 


Says Coleman, “Cléa’s concept and direction was beautiful, compelling and imaginative. I had seen her previous work and loved her emotive sensitivity to colour, lighting and storytelling. My approach for the swan dress was to create form by free drawing the curved pattern pieces – thinking about the gracefulness of the swan and the sensual feminine shape. The silk taffeta was hand-quilted then stitched and gathered in places to show abundance as well as symbolising purity and tradition.” 


Cléa van der Grijn’s exhibition “Shift” inspired by Lewis Carroll’s novel Alice in Wonderland is currently on at Solomon Fine Art, Balfe Street, Dublin 2.

November 5, 2021