CATWALK in Amsterdam

Sunday I had the pleasure to visit the exhibition CATWALK at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, I was invited by ING to visit it and to listen to Carien Kanters.

Mode in Rijksmuseum

The exhibition shows 80 garments, from the 17th century until 1960 and is divided in 6 rooms.

The first room is about children's clothing. Until the end of the 19th century children from the age of 6 years old had to wear a stays or a corset. For boys it was fashionable to have narrow shoulders and a swayback so the jackets were tailored like that, boys grew up with this ideal image in stays.
Broad shoulders were for the workers, for the well-off not a desirable icon.

The sailor suit on display is the only exception, it is of jersey and no stays. A first comfortable garment for children of the rich people.

Matrozenpakje Rijksmuseum

In the second room gowns by family of Oranje-Nassau are on display including the underpants of Hendrik Casimir I, earl of Nassau Dietz (1612-1640).

According to history Willem III wore an impressive purple gown with embroidery, inspired by a kimono, but we see a beige one.


So maybe it wasn't the famous gown, but with today's techniques it was proven that the colour was bright purple. It was dyed with Logwood, a natural dye and very sensitive to light so the purple faded.

In the third room it is all about the 20th century. Dancing dresses or flapper dresses of the twenties, a jacket of baby-corduroy, made for the mother of the bride of curtains just after the second world war. The black dress by Balenciaga of taffeta (1951), probably a copy from the original but made according the pattern and couture techniques. The instructions were send to the seamstress and she created it in the Netherlands. Each dress has its own story and Carien Kanters told us all about it, wanting us to hear more an more about the details and the gossips!

And you can sit front row looking at the dresses as they passes by! Like a real catwalk!

Balenciaga Tafetta Black dress

Corsages are made by silk velvet flowers, this one has a bunch of 67 grapes, made of little hollow glass balls coloured with paste.

Corsage of silk velvet flowers and glass grapes

Room 4 is the road to freedom. Women left the corsets, shortened the dresses and had a choice.
The masks refers to a play women had to participate with dresses with wide hips, low necklines with lace edges. As the ankle was the most sexy part of a women's body it had to be covered.


It shows gowns from 1625 until the well-known dress of Yves Saint Laurent, inspired by Mondriaan.

Mondriaan dress by Yves Saint Laurent

In room 5 I am impressed by the paper wigs of the mannequins, this room is all about the silhouettes.

Papieren pruik in Rijksmuseum

In room 6 all eyes are going to the mantua dress with train. The 22 year old Helena Slicher married Baron Aelbrecht van Slingelandt in the dress on the 4th of September 1759. Spanning more than 2 metres, making it the widest dress in the Netherlands.
The embroidery of the flowers on the dress are a bit old fashioned in 1759, but the sleeve with three ruffles was all the rage then. The dress has its volume by hoops under the skirt and were called panniers a codes (elbow panniers).

And I couldn't resist being photographed with it!

Carien Kanters reading was very interesting and I just shared a few details but she is also giving guided tours through the exhibition. For more information visit
For everyone interested in fashion, this exhibition is worth visiting I advise you not to choose a Sunday as it is very busy! Until the 15th of May the gowns are on display!
See also my post on Behind the Scenes of the exhibition and for more photos Patricia Reports.

And a big thank you to ING for the invitation and hospitality!

CATWALK in Amsterdam CATWALK in Amsterdam Reviewed by Patricia Munster on 1:33:00 PM Rating: 5

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