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Bleeding in the Backhouse
Friday, 18 July 2008

It’s 4 am Sunday morning and I’m at Rio airport with four suitcases. Pedro is pushing a trolley with boxes in my direction. A heavy trolley with many boxes full of my eco accessories. We manage to pack all the stuff in between clothes, books and Natura products I can’t live without back in Europe. Maybe it’s not so practical to bring all that. My luggage overweighs with 80 kilos. A heavy load for my muscles. And my wallet. When everything is sealed and checked in, I drag myself into the airplane. I’m fast asleep even before it takes off.

When I arrive in Amsterdam, my taxi driver from Schiphol airport asks me what I’m carrying. ‘Seeds from the Amazon, fish skin, rubber and bananaplac’ I tell him. ‘Never heart of that’ he reacts in Portuguese. My Dutch driver is a guy from Portugal, what a coincidence.

He drops me at Edwin’s doorstep and I have to wake him up. It’s 8 am on a Monday morning. Five days to go before the show. 5 days = 120 hours = many, many minutes. Enough?

I’m staying in Anne Frank’s backhouse. Not the actual museum, but a tiny hidden 2x2 room in Edwin’s three story, 100 year old house in de Wallen district. He is part of the Red Light Fashion project and lives and works in this former prostitute house donated by the Amsterdam municipality. He makes his dresses on tables made of the prostitutes’ beds, the red plush carpet is covered by flower fabric and the bathrooms have been cleaned a thousand times. But the building still carries the memory of its previous practices. From the living room you can see exactly which girl receives most visits. As soon as you step out of the door, groups of drunken tourists look at you strangely trying to guess if you’re one of them. And in the midst of it all, Edwin and other young designers prepare for Amsterdam International Fashion Week.

We don’t get much sleep that week. Edwin and his team work 24 hours a day for his show on the 18th. I try to fix what went wrong in Brazil within the same time schedule. Suddenly time is what it is again and not something you’re waiting for. ‘This will never happen to me again’ I tell myself while pondering on riding my bicycle into a canal and drowning.

But the show is more than fantastic. Everyone loves the accessories. Amazing PR people pick them up to showcase to clients. On Monday the first stylists borrow items for fashion shoots. And we get an instant invitation from Fashion Solution (www.fashionsolution.nl) to present them for free during the ModeFabriek. To be continued...

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