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Fashion as a language

Interview with Odair Pereira

Upstairs in the Laundry is the studio of fashion designer Odair Pereira. The space is the headquarters of Odair's international clothing line DAIR. "I believe fashion is more than just clothes," says Odair, "it's how you feel about it, it's what you wear, it's what you exude. Just like people say music is a language, I feel the same way with fashion."

"DAIR is about combining different silhouettes, sizes and materials," Odair said. The clothing line is inspired by personality, is for both men and women and has a focus on gender-neutral clothing "that can be worn in different ways so that it aligns with who you are and how you feel on the day you are going to wear it," Odair says. The designer translates personality into clothing so that clothing tells.

In DAIR's shows, the message conveyed by a collection is reinforced by movement, text and music. These artistic expressions are important elements in Odair's work. "How do I want you to feel, how do I want you to experience it? That's what I focus on a lot," he says. To integrate different art forms with fashion, Odair deviated from the beaten fashion paths early on, beyond straightforward fashion shows. One example is DAIR's last Dutch show, at Rotterdam's Melly Art Institute. "We used all four exhibition rooms. The show, a production of 20 models and 20 dancers, ran through the different spaces." A video of the show shows how movement, music, text and fashion are fused into one experience.

DAIR has been in the Laundry, an incubator for innovative makers in the fashion world, for two and a half years now. The Laundry's Beehive project brings together a number of designers from the incubator. These makers, including Odair, are creating new collections from the Bijenkorf's thrift store. The project "represents sustainability and all the little stones we can contribute to make sure there is less pollution from the fashion industry," Odair said. "That's also a goal of the Laundry itself, so we apply that in as much detail as possible." The project results in pop-ups at various Bijenkor store locations, "it's a touring store, really." The pop-ups are running well. "We actually didn't dream in the beginning that it would turn out like this, but it caught on very well. People just want a garment of quality but also with a story."

Sustainability is also a major theme within DAIR. Pollution and consumption are minimized by reusing fabrics, upcycling, designing garments that can be used in multiple ways, renting out items and costomizing existing garments.

In addition to designing and costomizing clothing, Odair also dresses and styles international celebrities such as Don Diablo, Billy Porter and Keke Palmer. The designer has a lot to be proud of, but "the small and personal things, the one-on-ones with clients I find very special. For me, and this sounds lol, whether I dress Beyoncé or Pete from around the corner has the same value. I just really like the feeling of discovering someone, getting to know their personality and ultimately translating that into a creation." Laughing quickly, he adds, "Of course, it would be super cool if I got to dress Beyoncé, that aside."